Fireworks and Your Special Needs Child

Fireworks are wonderful and traditional part of Independence Day celebrations. Having a special needs child can make this holiday a challenge, but with preparation, it doesn’t have to be. The following is a list of tips for helping a child prepare for fireworks displays and Fourth of July celebrations.

1. Start reading books or articles about the Fourth of July and what it means for the United States of America. If your child understands the concept of birthdays, explain this is America’s birthday.  Perhaps make a flag themed or patriotic food for the day for example fruit in the shape of an American flag or a red, white & blue birthday cake.

2. Talk about the events of the day. Managing expectations with a visual chart will help your child understand the activities planned for the day. This is especially important for those children who expect the same routine day to day. Marking a calendar and counting down the days is a great way to create enthusiasm for the day. Many children thrive on routine and moving from one activity to another is easier if they understand exactly what is going to happen next.

3. Research the fireworks displays in your area. Choose the show with the most variety in viewing areas. Children who cannot tolerate crowds or noise can benefit from a fireworks show viewable from a vehicle.

4. Explain how fireworks work and what they are made of. Describe all of the colors, smells, and sounds. Use this coloring sheet to fill in the bright colors and location of the fireworks. If possible watch videos of fireworks displays in advance.

5. Plan for the day by practicing with ear covers, scarves and blankets that will be used if seated outside. If possible, have your child help prepare the “go to” bag with toys, treats or comforting items to take along to the show.

6. Enjoy the celebration the best way possible. Going in with an open mind and back-up plan will allow everyone to have a great event.

While most fireworks displays are relatively short, each experience big or small is helping your child feel confident about celebrations and new things. Take lots of pictures that can be used as tools for years to come.