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Smooth Sailing for the 4th of July- Sensory Modifications for Those Hesitant Kiddos

Written by: Jamie Mckimmy

When you think of the fourth of July, what are the first 3 words that come to mind? For me they are fireworks, barbecues, and friends/family gatherings. Now we all know there are many more things involved, but those are the biggest that can positively or negatively impact an individual. You might think, how could these 3 simple and fun things negatively impact someone? Well that someone is often a child with sensory processing difficulties.

Sensory processing difficulties can be defined as “a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses.” Now when you think back to our 3 words (fireworks, barbecue, and gathering) each involves multiple parts of our sensory system.

Fireworks - visual and auditory

Barbecue - visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory

Gathering - visual, auditory, and olfactory

Here are some helpful tips and tricks to ensure these kiddos with sensory processing difficulties can enjoy their fourth of July too.

Prepare ahead of time

  • Have a social story about fourth of july

  • Watch videos about fireworks and gatherings of larger amounts of people

  • Have a back up plan

  • Consider hosting gathering so child has their safe spaces easily accessible to them

Minimize sensory stimuli

  • Offer noise canceling headphones

  • Have a few of child’s favorite toys or fidgets

  • Have a safe place for child to go

  • Offer sunglasses to reduce visual sensory stimuli

Clear communication

  • Encourage child to communicate his or her needs to you (if child is nonverbal use picture cards)

  • Monitor child frequently

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