We are smack in the middle of summer. Everyone is off of routine, feeling bored and it is hot. That is always a marker for me to let me know that the Fourth of July is quickly approaching. If you, or a family member, live with a sensory-related condition, you know that July 4th festivities are often filled with worry.
Although you can do your best to limit exposure to many of the activities associated with the Fourth. You tend to lose a sense of control over some of it.
There have been multiple years, I have found myself wrapping a child in a heavy blanket burrito in the most interior room of our house, just wanting to scream “turn it down”, as we had no control on the volume or amount of fireworks going on overhead. It should be noted, that through the years, my sensory child has grown bolder and begun to enjoy fireworks in small settings. It really is all about finding a balance and what works for your situation.
If you are planning to venture out to enjoy an Independence Day celebration, plan ahead. Make sure you have an exit strategy in the event that you need to leave.
Here are some tips on how to make the 4th of July more sensory friendly!
How To Manage Sensory Issues
Noise Cancelling Headphones
A pair of noise-cancelling headphones is an essential tool for enjoying many events that take place with loud noises and crowds of people. They decrease the decibel level significantly. You can also take along your own music to listen too as a way to help calm you. It helps block out the other noises going on around you.
Plan Your Parking
If you plan on attending a parade, arrive early and try parking close. (Be aware of parking restrictions during holiday events…they are usually posted). Leave early to avoid the rush and chaos of all attendees exiting at the same time. Call ahead to local businesses along the parade route and see if they have any indoor viewing options available for special circumstances. If wandering is a challenge in your situation, avoiding parades and crowded areas is always a good option. There is always another time to try it.
As with any change in routine, use social stories or watch videos to let everyone know what to expect. Nothing should come as a surprise. Add the date to a calendar and share the fun of doing a countdown.
Snacks And Stims
Wherever you may roam this holiday weekend, make sure you have the essential snacks, toys and stims everyone may need. Don’t forget the water for hydration. These essentials can provide comfort in an unfamiliar setting.
Location Location Location
Fireworks are so big that they can be viewed from very far away….making them a lot more quiet and tolerable too. Does your city have a hill that provides a great 360* view of the outlying towns? These are great places to watch multiple firework shows and not be in the hustle and bustle of the big crowds.
Years ago, I became a strong supporter of the K.I.S.S. method (Keep It Simple Silly). Through the years, I have found it can be modified to Keep is Sensory Simple. You know your situation best. Plan a day that can incorporate some July 4th themed fun, and remember that it is all right to not participate in the big community events.
All of the national networks have beautiful firework displays on their schedule. This is a great, sensory friendly option. No crowds, no heat, no bugs, close/clean restrooms and you have control over the volume. Dollar stores have loads of cheap craft options and glow in the dark items that can be incorporated into your own July 4th sensory bin.
Most importantly, make it a fun day. However, that may look to you. The Fourth of July is a deeply loved American tradition, but you can add your own flair to it and make it work for you.
We hope these tips on how to make the 4th of July more sensory friendly will help you!
Be safe and enjoy!