Independence Day is a very exciting holiday for families and children of all ages and abilities. Parent Network of WNY has some helpful tips for parents so all children might enjoy a more inclusive Independence Day.
All parents should keep the following in mind this 4th of July holiday:
Prepare your child
Before partaking in any holiday activities, start talking about the festivities so the situation is less intimidating. Show pictures of picnics, games, and fireworks.If it’s your child’s first fireworks show, you may want to try watching some YouTube videos of a big show in advance so they know what to expect.
Bring comfort items
Children with sensory needs may feel overwhelmed during the holiday festivities. Depending on what your child likes, these could be stuffed animals, a blanket, books, or a handheld gaming system.
Reduce sensory overload
To prepare your child for the eventful holiday weekend, try to bring tools such as noise-blocking headphones, sunglasses, fidget toys, and more to help reduce sensory input. You may also consider picking a location that’s not too crowded.
Crowds always pose a risk for children, so be sure to stick together and have a plan in place for finding one another. When it comes to fireworks, always practice fire safety. Never allow children play with or light fireworks. Keep a close eye on children at all times when around fireworks. Call 911 immediately if someone is injured from fireworks.
Have a plan B
Be prepared to leave if your child becomes overwhelmed during festivities and/or firework display shows. Even though you have spent time preparing your child, things may not work out as planned. Keep this in mind when parking the car so you can have an easy route out. Coordinate an escape route and make plans for possible contingencies.
Find a safe space
Once you and your child arrive to the festivity’s locations, identify a quiet, calm space away from the crowd to take your child when he or she is getting overwhelmed. A 15-minute break might be all that’s needed before going back to join the fun.
Find An Alternative
It’s possible that fireworks and parades are just completely off the table for your child with sensory difficulties. Here are a list of popular alternates:
- Host a family party
- Hold a Red-White-and-Blue dress-up contest
- Have a Water balloon fight
- Take a beach trip
- Host a Fourth of the July themed bake-off
- Have a family Fourth of July movie marathon
- Watch firework show from indoors