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4 Tips for a Sensory Friendly 4th of July

July 4th, an amazing holiday for friends and family to gather, eat, celebrate and have fun! However, the same reasons why this holiday is so exciting are the very same reasons why this holiday can be terrifying for children with sensory processing disorders. Parades, heat, crowds, scents from various cooking, and of course the fireworks (loud, unpredictable bursts with a visual overstimulation). For you and your child suffering from Sensory Processing Disorders, it is important to be prepared so everyone is able to enjoy all the fun 4th of July brings. Here are some tips that can help guide you to a successful holiday!


  1. Make a schedule for the day
    Most children suffering from Sensory Processing Disorders do not like unpredictability.  Letting your child know about what you will be doing a few days prior to the event, will better help prepare them. You can use a visual schedule to help symbolize what you will be doing. 


  1. Prepare an area with sensory comforts should your child become overwhelmed
    Becoming familiar with the area (house, restaurant, or beach) is important. If you are able to find a quieter area amongst the chaos you will be able to provide a safe space. You can use anything from blankets or towels to make a fort or pack a pop-up tent. Have calming items such as headphones, stress balls, fidgets, favorite snacks and even a weighted toy. All of these items help calm an overstimulated child.


  1. Prior to the party, makes sure to have your child receive plenty of sensory input
    For example, I tell the clients I work with to go to a park (swings, slides, and organized play help improve sensory processing skills). If you don’t have the time, use what you have in your home. You can have your child jump on a trampoline 10 times, crab walk, wheelbarrow walk or frog jump. This deep pressure (heavy work) allows your child to receive input that calms and organizes them.


  1. Make sure you are able to provide yourself with calming techniques as well
    It is a lot to be in social situations with a child who has sensory concerns. Allow your friends and family to assist you so that you are able to enjoy the holiday as well. Surrounding yourself with friends and family who are understanding how to handle your sensory child will help you enjoy yourself as well.
I hope you have an incredible holiday! It is a challenging day for many vets, parents, children, and animals. Remember – you are not alone!
Feel free to reach out if you need any additional help!

Sarah Appleman Play With Your FoodFor any questions regarding these activities, Occupational Therapy, or my services, you can send me a message or find me on Instagram – @playwithyourfoodbook.

Sarah Appleman MS, OTR/L is the author of “Play With Your Food” and is a specialist in her field. 


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