With 4th of July just around the corner, everyone is excited about the traditional celebrations. The busy, noisy, and overcrowded parades with loud and bright fireworks and overpowering smell of smoke on the streets can be a perfect recipe of super fun for a child. However, for a neurodiverse child with Autism; unfortunately, the celebrations can be a recipe for disaster.
It is known that the hustle bustle on the 4th of July can cause intense sensory overload and meltdowns for Autistic children. But does that mean they should not be given a chance to enjoy it?
Of course, they should. Abudo believes Independence Day is for everyone; even for the ones struggling with Autism management. So here’s what you need to know to manage your child’s sensory overload on the 4th of July:
What is Autism:
Autistic children or children on the spectrum suffer from a developmental disorder. This usually appears in the first two years of a child’s life and impacts their ability to perceive, communicate, and socialize with others. Simple interactions become exceedingly difficult for an autistic child. Any disruption in their routine or environment can result in disaster, if not appropriately managed. This is why the role of a parent is so crucial in the life of an autistic child.
It’s obviously easier said than done. Parents of the autistic children have a hard time managing their child’s disease. Nonetheless, their behavior and dedication towards making life comfortable for their child is what makes all the difference in terms of enabling a disadvantaged child to enjoy the simple pleasures of life just like waking up on the 4th of July and making the most of the holiday, like other children.
Some parents would instantly think of all the meltdowns that might accompany the 4th of July fireworks. But remember, all circumstances are manageable if faced with the right attitude!
So why keep your child from having fun on a happy day?
Tips for Sensory Overload Management of The Autistic:
It’s no secret that kids on the spectrum despise sudden noises, bright lights, and crowded gatherings. Also these are all the things that make up a typical American 4th of July weekend. Families gather for barbeques, relatives get loud, children run around screaming, fireworks light up the sky. And while all these things might mean a fantastic time for a neurotypical child, they spell out a nightmare for an unprepared autistic child. It’s all the things they find difficult to cope with rolled up in one untidy, chaotic package.
Now, we have some tips for you to exercise smart parenting to avoid the sensory overload that might accompany the chaotic package. Sticking to them will help you let your child enjoy the Independence day shenanigans while also giving you a chance to be a part of the celebrations without having to worry about the autistic behavior outburst.
The Starter Pack
For a parent, it is necessary to teach their kids how to cope with ever-changing environments. For parents of a neurodiverse child, this is a huge task and yet is the most important to teach. Simple exercises and preparations can be made to give your child an idea of what to expect and how to cope with certain situations which are to be expected during the holiday weekend. Your job as a parent is to limit the sensory overload on your child, and the best way to go about that is by preparation. A little time spent explaining and teaching your child will go a long way in terms of creating an enjoyable holiday experience for the whole family- that I can assure you! Here are some tips which have been adapted from techniques used in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapy, in which behavior modifications are consistently applied and rewarded to bring about a positive change in overall behavior.
A Pep Talk Before The Celebrations
The first and foremost thing to remember is that communication is critical. Sit down and explain to your child what to expect and how things will happen. Mentally preparing them for what’s to come is always the right way to go. Go through the planned activities for the day, you can even rehearse a few with your child to make them extra prepared!
Prepare possible scenarios with your child, helping them understand what the best reaction to an uncomfortable situation may be. Emotional support tools are another brilliant idea which can help to make your child feel safe and calm during a possible meltdown. A favorite toy or snack may be just the thing your child needs when faced with an overwhelming and unfamiliar environment. Having anything that imparts familiarity will be what pulls your child back to a calm state of mind when faced with the genuine risk of an incoming episode. Preparing your child for sensory overload is crucial.
The Essentials To Save You From An Unwanted Meltdown
Packing earplugs or noise-canceling headphones while going to celebrate is a must. You can also prepare your autistic child by showing them videos of fireworks online at high volume or even by setting off some small ones at home, just to ease them into the idea. Explaining everything as you do it will help your child to understand the process and its importance significantly. Another method that’s proven to be helpful when facing large crowds is setting up a tent or some personal space for your child that he or she can easily escape to when things around them are getting too much to handle.
The Ultimate Secret To Sensory Overload Management
Remember that the most important thing to do is to help your child not to feel helpless. Find ways to make him or her feel in control, this will better equip them to tackle unfamiliar situations and people. As a parent, providing the right tools is all you can do. If your child still gets upset easily and throws a tantrum- that’s fine. Your goal is to help make the holiday as enjoyable as possible within the limitations of your child’s threshold.
So, here’s a key takeaway: Sensory overload for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder is best treated with preparation. So be prepared. Don’t let another Independence Day go by just like that. Head out with appropriate preparations and make the most of the celebrations around.
Just do your best, make new memories and have fun with your child!