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THRIVING and Surviving Tips to prepare for the 4th of July and Fireworks

Updated: 4 days ago

I don’t know about you, but I love fireworks. I look forward to the twirling colors dancing in the air, spinning like cosmic pinwheels, others exploding into glittering showers that resemble enchanted rain, and the magical twinkling fireflies, dancing and flickering before disappearing into the night. 


But, I also hate fireworks. I want to see and hear them on my terms. I want them a safe distance from my house, finished by 10 pm, and shot off by professionals. Basically, as a neurodivergent adult, the fourth of July gives me great anxiety. I can appreciate the celebration and the beauty, but I must prepare myself in advance for this spectacular night.


Due to the sensory overload from fireworks, crowds, and loud noises, the Fourth of July can be a challenging holiday for many neurodivergent children. Here are some tips to help parents prepare for the upcoming festivities and measures to take that can help their child cope with the stimulation.


Tips to prepare neurodivergent kids for 4th fireworks


Preparation

  • Discuss the Event Ahead of Time

    • Use social stories or visual schedules to explain what will happen during the celebrations.

    • Show videos or pictures of fireworks and parades to familiarize them with what to expect.

  • Create a Plan

    • Plan out the day's activities, including when and where fireworks will be, and share this with your child.

    • Identify quiet zones or places where your child can retreat if they feel overwhelmed.


Sensory Considerations

  • Use Noise-Canceling Headphones

  • Equip your child with noise-canceling headphones or earplugs to reduce the impact of loud noises.

  • Comfort Items

  • Bring along favorite comfort items such as a blanket, stuffed animal, or fidget toy.


Environment Management

  • Choose a Viewing Location Wisely

    • Opt for less crowded locations to watch fireworks or participate in celebrations.

    • Consider watching fireworks from a distance or from inside a car to reduce noise and visual intensity.

  • Have an Exit Strategy

    • Be prepared to leave early if your child becomes overwhelmed.

    • Inform them that it’s okay to take breaks or leave if they need to.


Communication and Support

  • Communicate with Others

    • Inform friends, family, or event staff about your child's needs and what to expect.

    • Have a trusted person who can help watch your child if you need assistance.

  • Practice Coping Strategies

    • Teach and practice coping mechanisms such as deep breathing, squeezing a stress ball, or using calming apps on a tablet or phone.


Alternatives to Traditional Celebrations


  • Celebrate at Home

    • Create a safe and controlled environment at home with alternative activities like watching fireworks on TV, having a small family BBQ, or doing crafts related to the holiday.

Family, mom and two young daughters, watching 4th of July fireworks from their bedroom

  • Quiet Celebrations:

    • Engage in quieter, sensory-friendly activities like decorating cookies, playing patriotic-themed games, or having a picnic.


Post-Celebration

Debrief and Discuss:

  • After the event, talk about what they enjoyed and what was difficult.

  • Use this information to plan for future celebrations.


By taking these steps, parents can help make the Fourth of July a more enjoyable and less stressful experience for their child.

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