Independence Day means it is time to fire up the grills and enjoy the long summer nights full of fun. From sparklers, to get-togethers, to fireworks the holiday is guaranteed to impress. Having a child with ASD mixed with all the festivities can bring about stress and frustration for all involved due to sensory overload. Here are some tips for families that have children with Autism:
Make A Visual Schedule
Having a planned out guide organized for your child from the get-go can relieve a lot of confusion and temporary change in routine the child may experience throughout the day due to the holiday. Here are 2 helpful links that will aide in making visual schedules:
https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/using-visual- schedules-a- guide-for- parents
http://adayinourshoes.com/free-printable- visual-schedules- for-home- and-daily- routines/
Also, for those with smartphones, there are several free apps that can help put together quick visual schedules for your child.
If you are taking your child to a novel environment, explain to them what they are to expect when going into the gathering. Set guidelines for what you want them to do as far as good behavior and what activities they will be participating in. Let them choose something they want to work for and specify how and when they will get what they chose. By setting these expectations beforehand, the child will be more receptive to transitions and novel activities. This will also let them know who they will be surrounded by and can make it fun for siblings and other family members involved.
Token For Good Behavior
Bring highly preferred items with you to reinforce good behavior while out. Great examples would be a tablet, their favorite snack or their favorite stuffed animal. If possible, bringing a pair of headphones with a tablet or smart phone may alleviate sensory issues with fireworks, or too much noise happening at any point during the day.
Wherever you may be headed, it is helpful if you can find a quiet space ahead of time, for your child to retreat to if they become upset. Show your child where they can go to relax before the festivities begin that way they are familiar with the space in case they need to retreat there later on.
Going Out To Eat
If your plans involve going out to eat, go during non-peak times. Most restaurants are at their slowest business during the mid-afternoon (2pm-4pm). This will allow for a short wait time, minimal crowds and a relatively stress-free experience for all.
As it gets towards the evening and even closer to bedtime, put on a fan or music to compete with the banging fireworks to help calm your child.
If you have questions, please contact the staff at BCOTB!