By Miriam Bernard
Reference Articles provided by Robin Daisley
Fourth of July is a time of year full of social engagements and fireworks celebrations. This can be very exciting for some, but worrisome and fear-inducing for persons with auditory sensitivities or parents of those with auditory processing challenges.
However, it can be possible to enjoy the holiday with your family AND tend to the needs of your sensitive loved one – it only requires a bit of preparation and forethought. We at the NODCC want to help your Independence Day be calm, happy, and memorable, so here are some tips from both experts and parents to make Fourth of July or summer theme park visits as successful as possible.
- Understand – Start now! In the days leading up to Independence Day, explain to your loved one what a firework is, how they work, and how despite the loud noises, viewing them from a distance causes them to be safe. There are even videos on YouTube showing how fireworks are made and how they work. Knowledge is power, and providing your loved one with knowledge and understanding may prepare them with curiosity and excitement for what is coming!
- Practice – Take turns pretending to be those lighting or watching fireworks. Make loud booms with your mouth and make pretend “oohs” and “aahs” at the pretty lights. This type of practice can yield preparation and readiness for the real thing.
- Special Items – Moms of kids with auditory sensitivities say that bringing a special item from home or a new fidget toy of some sort can cause an anticipation for something besides fireworks that redirects away from the source of worry. If your loved one only gets the special item when it’s time for fireworks, their excitement can overshadow the fear.
- Settle – Behavioral experts and moms with firsthand experience agree that an agreed upon quiet time before fireworks can act as a settling mechanism and give someone with auditory processing challenges the calm needed for the more intense moments coming later. Expert Jill Stowell, M.S., of Stowell Learning Center, in her article “Surviving the Fireworks with your Sensitive Child” states, “Read a story, hum, or talk or sit quietly… Let your child sit on your lap with your arms wrapped around him or give him some nice, grounding pressure with a weighted blanket or stroking his back, arms, or legs firmly.”
- Shift How You Watch – Watching from a further distance such as the top of a parking garage rather than in a park with hundreds of people has proven to be a helpful method that cuts down on sensory triggers, and the distance from the fireworks lessens the noise significantly. Others suggest watching from inside a car, or from a window indoors.
- Noise Reduction – If you do plan to be outside with a crowd, measures like noise-canceling headphones, weighted blankets, or wrapping a soft blanket around your loved one can give them the calm to get through the event with no trepidation. Parents say these same methods are helpful in movie theaters or other places with loud noises.
No matter which tips you try, or what way your family chooses to safely and calmly celebrate, we wish your family a happy Fourth of July! For more detail on this topic, try these helpful articles:
- 6 Tips from Moms for Dealing with Sensitive Kids and Fireworks from growinghandsonkids.com
- Surviving the Fireworks with your Sensitive Child, Stowell Learning Center, Jill Stowell, July 2014