Happy Birthday America!

Independence Day marks the birth of the United States of America, founded in 1776, making the country 244 years old come July 4th, 2020. To express our patriotism, most of us anticipate and celebrate The Fourth of July with big, loud bangs and displays of continuous, intense, and bright bursts of lights.

However, for those with autism or sensory sensitivities, the day could result in heightened anxiety, fear, and full-blown meltdowns. Whether you choose to go out or stay home for the festivities, here are some ideas to help make this the FOURTH of YOUR LIFE, while giving special consideration to sensory overload prevention.

If your celebration plan is to go out, preparation is key. Your preparation will provide the predictability children on the spectrum require. Have a conversation with your child about the crowds, lights, and noises. If possible, let your child know the timeframe of the entire event, including drive time, event time, and return time. Creating a visual timetable will go a long way with giving your child a sense of peace. Other suggestions to create some calm are to bring a pair of sunglasses to reduce the stimulation of fireworks and bring either earmuffs or headphones to lessen the effects of loud noises.

Try to avoid minimizing the excitement of the event. Your child needs to understand how festive the night will be, as this will reassure him/her of a fun-filled evening with the family and will alleviate any potential fear. Utilize online comics, fun facts, or stories about July 4th (see below links) to provide a visual of the celebration and help them understand what to expect. Also, if your family anticipates having others involved in the outing, prepare them on how to best interact with your child, as this will prevent any misunderstandings or frustrations.

During outings of any kind, we cannot forget the crisis of COVID-19. Currently, safety protocols for outdoor events include maintaining six feet of distance between other groups or people, being self-screened for COVID-19 symptoms before attending event and wearing face coverings at all times while in Fort Bend and Harris County. Check your local listings for up-to-date recommendations, requirements, and safety protocols as they continue to change.

If, on the other hand, you plan to stay home and celebrate, here are four ideas for a fun filled, Fourth of July.

  1. Make a Patriotic Playlist – Before your fire up the pit or hit the hot dogs, make a playlist for July 4th that will get the whole family in the mood to celebrate this patriotic day. Pick current favorites, oldie but goodies, or even these all-time Fourth of July favs:
    • God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood
    • American Woman by Lenny Kravitz
    • Party in the U.S.A. by Miley Cyrus
    • Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen
    • Living in America by James Brown
    • America the Beautiful by Ray Charles
    • This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
    • Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue by Toby Keith
    • Firecracker by Josh Turner
    • America by Neil Diamond
  2. GO online – Stream the following live firework events online or watch on television:
    • ABC13 Freedom Over Texas 4:00PM – 10:00PM
    • PBS D.C. Fireworks 7:00PM
    • Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks 6:00PM – 8:00PM
  3. Celebrate with these Activities
  4. Create Sensory Friendly Crafts

The Fourth of July, Independence Day, is a holiday of freedom to express and give thanks for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Whichever way you choose to celebrate this festive day, stay safe, healthy, and happy! Make it be the FOURTH of YOUR LIFE. May the 4th be with YOU!