The Fourth of July is a fun-filled celebration the whole family can enjoy, however, the fireworks, parades, and crowds can pose a challenge for children with special needs. When planning your Independence Day festivities, whether it’s going to a parade, barbeque or firework show, choose an activity your child can enjoy while keeping in mind ways to help make their experience enjoyable and safe.
Make a Plan
No matter what activity or event you plan, introduce your child to the idea of the activity/event prior to the event. Getting them familiar with the thought of what is going to happen could help manage their reaction and overall enjoyment during the event. Prepare them to expect a change in their normal everyday environment and routine, by explaining to them the loud noises of the fireworks, or the larger crowd at the parades/events. This could help put their mind at ease when they actually encounter those situations. If your child responds better to visual aids, you can also use photos or videos to illustrate the event or activity to provide them a better understanding.
Emphasis on Fun
The Fourth of July is a day to celebrate the United States’ birthday, so it should be a fun celebration! Explaining this message to your child could help them understand the purpose behind the fireworks, parties, and parades planned, and reinforce the message to them to have fun.
Reinforcement can be an important element in helping create an enjoyable day for your child. Items such as their favorite toy, electronic device, blanket, or snack could help soothe or distract them during any difficult parts of the day they encounter. Noise canceling headphones could be very beneficial during the parades and firework shows, while a blanket or stuffed animal toy could help provide a calming/familiar comfort.
Even if you plan ahead and prepare, things do not always go as planned. In these cases, sometimes your best option might be to remove your child from the situation/event or find an alternative plan that would work better. Always be flexible with your plan. For example, if the reinforcement tactics you had planned during the firework show aren’t working, then maybe try watching the show from the car or going home and watching it on the TV. There is usually an alternative approach that can be taken.
However, you choose to celebrate the day, remember to have fun and safe fourth. Enjoy the time with friends and family.