Regardless of whether or not your child carries an official diagnosis, many kids and young adults’ daily lives are affected by sensory needs that are either being under-met or overwhelmed. Children whose diagnosis falls on the autism spectrum or amongst those with ADHD, sensory issues almost always go hand-in-hand. These needs can be hypersensitive in seasons of extreme heat or cold and during holidays and big celebrations.
Here are four practical ways to prepare yourself and your sensory sensitive kiddos for the July 4th holiday:
Never Underestimate the Power of Headphones
Fireworks are a staple part of almost any Independence Day celebration. Our family learned the hard way how this loud and brilliant light show could negatively impact our son’s sensory sensitivities until his first fireworks show at age two. He had a total (public) meltdown complete with kicking, screaming, tears, and fist throwing. His two year old self couldn’t articulate what was happening to his little body as the fireworks blasts his eardrums and the light display pierced his eyes. The crowds of people talking closely to him and touching him sent him over the edge.
We had no idea.
To prep for this holiday festivity, pack some essential gear that should start with noise cancelling headphones. There are sensory sensitive companies who make these out of EVA foam so they bend but don’t break and they are soft to the touch. This prevents and unwanted intrusion from ear buds or other devices that may cause pain or discomfort. This simple item will allow your child to enjoy the show without the piercing noise.
Sunglasses for the Win
Both the intense July UV rays and the lights from firecrackers can be blinding this time of year. Don’t opt for the simple, drugstore variety shades this summer; spring for a brand of eye protection that is polarized. The difference is worth the extra few bucks. The polarization eliminates harsh glare and blocks more light. Pairing 3D glasses over sunglasses will reduce light and make for a pretty impressive fireworks show for your sensory kids.
Pack Their Snacks
Most kids with sensory concerns have specific foods or types of foods that they will and won’t eat. Our son has refused some of his favorite foods because the company who makes them changed the packaging. So, if you parent our type of kiddo, be prepared by packing plenty of snacks and drinks that you know your children will enjoy so they have an alternative if the family barbeque doesn’t have anything they will eat. A hungry child is a more difficult one, so keep them hydrated and well-fed with options that won’t further irritate their already heightened senses.
Prepare for Any Weather
Though in most regions, July is a steamy and sweltering mix of humidity and sunshine, that can also bring with it heavy downpours of rains and gnarly thunderstorms. Whether your sensory kiddo is temperature sensitive, afraid of bad weather, or bothered by the noise from thunder, we need to be prepared for anything as much of the July 4th festivities leave us outside and exposed to the elements.
We recommend always packing sunscreen, an umbrella for the rays or the rain, clothing with UV protectant, a change of clothes and shoes, a jacket, ear protection, and eye protection.
Most parents of children with sensory needs are pros at preparation, but we can all learn something from each other to be better ready for the next holiday or heat spell!
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