Independence Day is rapidly approaching – a day that brings very loud noises, unusual foods, big crowds and other activities that aren’t welcomed by someone who gets over-taxed on holidays. If someone in your family has sensory issues, the glorious Fourth may not be a day they want to celebrate.
Holidays like this may upset people with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or those who have autism. All the over stimulation that goes with July 4th – plus the disruption to their normal daily routines – can be stressful, overload their sensory circuits and cause them to react with negative behavior.
How Can Caregivers Help?
What can you do in your caregiver’s role to keep the holiday fun and not overwhelming for a person with SPD? Some suggestions:
- At family gatherings, people with SPD may not like hugs, kisses or horseplay. Urge them to just shake hands or simply wave from across the room.
- People with SPD need structure, says Cathy Knoll from FAQautism.com. Try to maintain some of their daily routines to reduce stress.
- SPD sufferers can react badly to unfamiliar foods. So try to have some favorite foods available. Limit sugary foods or those that can cause allergic reactions.
- Sparklers, firecrackers, fireworks and yelling may be fun and exciting to most folks, but a sensory-aversive person may think that “It’s too loud,” or “It’s too bright,” or even try to hide. So if you know it’s going to be noisy, bring noise-cancelling earphones; if it’ll be too bright and flashy, maybe sunglasses would help (even at night). You may even want to return to the familiar surroundings of home before the fireworks begin.
You don’t need to stay at home on Independence Day, but it’s wise to consider the best interests of people with SPD.
We’d Love to Hear From You Too.
If you have experiences with persons who have SPD, we welcome your thoughts, ideas and suggestions on how to make holidays more fun for them. Please share your stories and advice below.