Fireworks (and other triggers)

I’ve always loved fireworks! From sparklers to a full county wide freedom festival extravaganza, I grew up associating them with summer, patriotic songs, family, friends and food.

Most times, I take Andrew to our local park that has a great display. We’ve also just done sparklers and sometimes, he has been in bed sound asleep way before dark. We try to find a balance between what feels like a celebration but considers his unique ability to process-or not. I strategize to make sure that we avoid meltdowns, serve the rest of the family and make sure that we create a celebratory mood without adding stress. Strategies are not the same every year, but thinking about what works for your family when planning for holidays and celebrations will help you celebrate in your own unique way.

Here is what works for us:

-Know what time events are planned and be ready early. Rushing around and arriving late is a no go for us. 

-Start preparing Andrew several days before. Remind him about the fireworks/party etc. Talk about the fun food like watermelon, flag cake, parade and other things we have done in the past to celebrate. For us this is part of our usual transition.

-Help him do a craft or get him to draw about the holiday.  Fourth of July can be especially upsetting because of all the loud and crowd.

-Keep talking it up. If he seems to resist or gets anxious, I just keep reminding him about all of the things he likes about it. 

-Talk about friends and family who we are likely to see. This can backfire if we don’t actually see a particular person, so I try to keep it general.

-Look at photo albums or pictures of past events where he participated.

-Read books about the subject/holdiday together.

-Ask him if he wants to attend. For him, the answer is lots of times, “no thanks.” For him, that is still a reaction to his anxiety, so I try to talk him through it. I encourage him, tell hime that we won’t stay long, take a snack, or have him look forward to a special treat afterward (for him that is mozzarella sticks at Sonic).

-Noise cancelling headphones.

Be prepared. Have everything ready to go prior to getting him ready/in the car. Examples for us would be his headphones, water, snack, sunscreen with a phone or ipad with games so that if he gets impatient with a delay, he can have some screen time to check out.

Planned rest or nap time, exit strategy and I would never expect him to go to anything all day that he didn’t have a place to recover and have some alone time. For example, an all day festival is a no go. We can go early, go home, and return for fireworks. If we are at a friend’s home or grandparent’s house, I make sure there is a place where he can get out of his chair, relax and nap if needed.

What are the strategies that help your family navigate holidays and special events?

2 thoughts on “Fireworks (and other triggers)”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *