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Sep 26th, 2018

4th of July Survival Guide for Children on the Autism Spectrum

For many children, the fireworks of 4th of July are the best part of the holiday celebration. However, if your child is on the spectrum, they may not be so keen on that portion of the evening! We have put together a few tips in the guide to make Independence Day go smoothly.

1. Prepare Your Child for Fireworks:

Take the time to explain what fireworks are like. Show them an online video of a fireworks show so they know what to expect. Try to find a fireworks display in your town that is themed to music so the explosion sounds aren’t quite so isolated as a scary noise and are only part of the show.

2. Expose Them to How Fireworks Function:

Purchase some small poppers that they can throw on the ground that make little popping noises and explain how the bigger versions work similarly, just on a larger scale. Light up a sparkler and let them see how the flames are really just light for the sky and not the big bad thing they might think it is. Getting a bit more technical might help ease them into the experience - you can even check out How Do Fireworks Work? Science for Kids for a more detailed explanation.

3. Bring Along Comfort Items:

Consider a pair of noise canceling headphones and a tablet for distraction but also just simple items that bring them comfort – a lovey, a favorite toy etc. – just to occupy them if things get too much with the crowds and the noise.

4. Make a Backup Plan:

Make sure to look around for access to a quieter space if your child gets overwhelmed. Whether it’s an indoor bathroom or the back of your car, make sure you know your way out and be prepared to leave if things get to be too much.

5. Create a Visual Schedule of the Day:

Let your child know exactly what is coming and when. Are you going to a parade? Special outdoor celebration? Neighborhood BBQ? All of the above? Just make a small picture schedule that has everything in the order it will happen and review it regularly throughout the day so your child has a chance to transition between activities. Make sure to schedule in a break or two or three if necessary!


We hope you have a wonderful celebration with friends and family!