Autism and Fireworks

For many children fireworks are awesome, fun, exciting, and the best part of July 4th. For others, these lights in the sky are overwhelming, echo far longer than they should, and make your child want to crawl under the mattress.

Here are a few quick tips to help your child this July 4th:

  1. As much as you want to be outside and watch fireworks, you may need to put these plans on hold for a while. If your child has sensory challenges, there is no reason to put him through this painful experience. And seriously, it can be painful. The noise and lights that fireworks emit may be incredibly overwhelming for your child. Even though the sound is far away in the dark sky, your child may hear it as if the fireworks are exploding in his ears.
  2. If your child enjoys fireworks, wants to see them, but still gets a bit overwhelmed, bring headphones and sunglasses with you. Also, use a visual schedule so he knows what to expect ahead of time. Review this schedule throughout the day so that he is prepared.
  3. If you are going to watch fireworks, make sure your child has a safe place where he can retreat if he becomes overwhelmed. Perhaps you can bring a heavy blanket or a pop-up tent (always monitor your child so that he doesn’t get overheated and/or suffocate).
  4. If this is his first time seeing fireworks, watch a few videos on your computer first to help prepare him for the event.
  5. If you know that your child does not want to watch fireworks LIVE, you can always watch them on your computer. This way, he gets to experience the lights, but in a controlled setting.
  6. Be aware of the loud sounds, even if you are inside your home. Make sure the windows are closed, your child has access to headphones, and you have a movie or music playing.
  7. You can start a new July 4th tradition of coloring fireworks, making visual fireworks in milk (pour whole milk in a casserole dish, add a few drops of food coloring, add a drop of Sunlight dish soap to each dot of food coloring, and watch what happens…it’s super cool), or even baking special treats.

Remember the meaning behind Independence Day. Encourage your child to try his best, and don’t get discouraged if this is not the right time for him to experience fireworks.

Have a happy and safe July 4th.


Please comment below, how does your child feel about fireworks? Do you have any tips and tricks you want to share?

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1 Comment
  • Dolly Thomas
    Posted at 08:00h, 30 June Reply

    Each year when our now 15 year old son was younger, we went to a City-Wide fireworks show where we made sure that there was an indoor venue to view them from in case he became overwhelmed. I’d also recommend trying to view them from afar & on more than annually if possible (fireworks at a baseball game, for example). We also made sure music accompanied the show as he enjoys Music (pairing an aversive with a preferred item comes to mind). We also made sure to have his favorite snacks & drink & any comfort item (blanket, preferred toy, etc) to comfort him as he watched as well. He enjoyed the sights but not so much the sounds, so to speak. Once the sounds were buffered from the indoor venue, each year he gradually became acclimated to eventually watching & enjoying them from outside.

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