Tips for surviving the Fourth of July

With crowds, get-togethers, and fireworks, the Fourth of July can be overwhelming for some individuals on the autism spectrum. However, by following some basic guidelines you can help your loved one or friend on the spectrum have an enjoyable and safe holiday.

Prepare ahead of time. Use social stories or visuals to prepare them for a party or event. This is best done a few days in advance so they will be as comfortable as possible.

Sights and sounds. Bright and loud, fireworks can be overwhelming for people with ASD. Sound canceling headphones are a great way to soften the loud noises and sunglasses can dull the unexpected lights.

Comfort foods. A picnic or barbecue might present them with new sights, sounds, and smells, so it may help if they are provided with familiar food and drink.

Familiar. Be certain to bring an item from home, such as a game or favorite toy, which can provide a distraction in stressful situations.

Getaway plan. If the situation becomes too intense – during fireworks, for example – they may need to leave. Coordinate a plan of escape and make plans for possible contingencies.

Practice the event. Holding a small cookout, the week before the real thing can be great practice for the Fourth.

Safety first! Individuals with ASD can be fearless, and fire can be a hazard to them. Keep an eye on them to avoid accidents around grills, fireworks, and campfires.

Focus on the fun! Tell your child why you enjoy fireworks or a holiday barbecue with friends. Let them see that you are excited to attend. This will help them get excited too.

Each person on the spectrum will react differently to the changes in routine and the possible onslaught of loud noises and bright lights. The best advice is to plan for the worst-case scenario so that every possibility has been considered and you have a plan in place if things become too much for them to handle.

Have a Safe & Happy Fourth of July!