July 4th is an amazing holiday for friends and family to gather, eat, celebrate and have fun! Unfortunately, this same joyous holiday can be an anxiety-inducing nightmare. The reasons that this holiday is so exciting are the very same reasons why it can be terrifying: parades, heat, crowds, scents from various cooking, and of course the fireworks (loud, unpredictable bursts with visual overstimulation).
For you and your child suffering from Sensory Processing Disorders, it is important to be prepared so you are able to enjoy the 4th of July. Here are some tips that can help guide you to a successful holiday.
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.
2. Prepare a safe space
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.
3. Deep pressure
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.
4. Stay calm
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.