The 4th of July can be a fun and enjoyable experience for families affected by autism. However, it is important to spend extra time and effort in order to facilitate the fun! One of the ways in which you can prep an individual with autism for what is involved with this holiday is through the use of a social story. Social stories are tools that can be used to help somebody with autism understand an event or an activity. These short stories help an individual understand the socially relevant cues in a given situation. Positivelyautism.com, a resource for parents, teachers, behavior analysts, SLPs, OTs, etc., has a social story created specifically for the 4th of July (click here to download).
Sensory processing is often an area where parents have much concern. The sound and light associated with fireworks shows are sensory overload for a number of individuals with autism. There are a few ways in which you can provide a pleasant experience for these individuals. The first focus should be on preparing for the actual event. Social stories, as mentioned, are one way to do this. Another way is to model for the individual what the event will look and sound like. An easy way to do this is to watch videos of fireworks and fireworks shows online.
As for the event itself, you can prepare by bringing along items to help with sensory concerns. In order to reduce the unwanted sensory input from the loud noises generated by the fireworks, an individual can wear headphones or ear plugs. You can also sit farther away from the show in order to decrease the perceived volume of the fireworks. Even simple actions such as covering ears or covering eyes can help with reducing unwanted sensory input. It may be necessary to prompt an individual in these areas, as when the event occurs it can be very stressful for them.
Finally, you can prepare for the event by having an escape plan. The escape plan should be made with input from the individual and provides a plan of action should the event become too much to handle. The car is an excellent escape location, and favorite toys or snacks can be packed in order to provide relief once departure from the show is necessary.
RBT & Supervision Student, Carmel