Watch this July 2019 story with Autism Society of Texas on Spectrum News Austin here to see tips on celebrating July 4th and see our suggestions below!
Preparing for July 4th: Plan for Success!
1. Plan something that will work for your loved one with Autism! Consider what you think your child or teen can handle & pick your activity accordingly. Take into consideration bedtime, crowds, loud noises, and think about what your options are. A family picnic or neighborhood parade might be more enjoyable than fireworks. Also consider watching fireworks from a distance if your child is noise-sensitive!
2. Prepare for the activity! Set your loved one up for success! Whether it’s a parade or fireworks (or both!) discuss it, but more importantly, make a simple story about the activity that explains the who/what/when/where of your activity, and how that will impact the child or teen and what they can do in the situation. The story should have simple descriptions and pictures. Include any fun parts of the day as well as potential scary things and what the individual can do if they feel scared or overwhelmed. How can they take a break? Do they know how to communicate that? You can google pictures from past events if it’s an annual activity like a local fireworks display or a parade. If there’s any videos from past years, show the video too!
3. Bring items to help with sensory issues. Noise reducing or noise canceling headphones can be a life-saver. Try them at home first and make sure your loved one knows they can wear them if needed. Older children, teens and adults may be fine wearing ear plugs. Include this in your story! If light-sensitivity is an issue, offer sunglasses.
4. Bring electronic devices, toys & snacks! Bring things to do and warn about the wait if there will be one! Bring snacks, toys, and activities to do while waiting! Include this in your story! Make sure electronic devices are charged, and if the person uses one for communication, practice how they will let you know if they need a break or need to leave.
5. Have an escape route & pick your location wisely! If you’re doing something that has the potential to be overwhelming, discuss in advance (with other adults attending) how you’re going to remove your child from the situation if things don’t go well. Decide in advance who will leave with the child. You may also want to sit somewhere that is easy to exit from. For kids who are really high energy pick somewhere your child can run or jump around while waiting for the activity.
6. Don’t be afraid to try new things! With preparation and practice, you can accomplish more & more! Over time your loved one with Autism may become more comfortable with events and celebrations. When you provide sensory accommodations, breaks, and an exit strategy or calm place to go to, it will make your loved one feel less anxious about trying the activity so they can enjoy the fun along with everyone else!
Here are a few events around Texas you could try!
July 3, 2022 : 6pm-10pm
Join The Sound at Cypress Waters on July 3rd from 6 – 10 PM for a laser light show, Windy City concert, picnics, Creature Teacher, Hollywood Feed cooling station, face painting, and more at Sensory Sensitive 4th of July Celebration at The Sound! The Sound will be replacing fireworks with a very patriotic laser light show to celebrate our nation’s independence. The Autism Society of Texas has helped them to prepare to make the event sensory-friendly and helped to train restaurant staff to be Autism friendly! This event has been created to keep individuals with sensory sensitivities in mind!
July 3, 2022 : 6pm-8pm
The July 4th Beyond Limits will be bursting with sensory-friendly activities and performances! Kids can paint their own firework display and experience a magic trick inside their favorite DoSeum exhibit from a traveling magician. Community partners will also provide resources and information for your family.
July 4, 2022 : 3pm-6pm
Beat the heat this 4th of July with sensory friendly bowling at High 5 in Lakeway, in support of Autism Society of Texas. House lights will be turned up, flashing lights will be reduced, and music will be turned down to better support children and adults with sensory sensitivities. All bowling proceeds will be donated to the Autism Society of Texas!