Coping With Sensory Sensitivity and July 4th Celebrations

Happy Fourth of July!  Children with sensory sensitivity may not be in the mood to celebrate today.   Holidays in general are often tough for these kids, but this particular holiday is known for it’s cacophony of sights, sounds and smells.  Here are some suggestions to make the day as much fun as possible:

  1. Keep your usual routines as much as you can.  With all the traveling, different menus and unfamiliar visitors, your child will be comforted by the things that don’t change today.  That means the same nap times, the same snacks, and the same music in the car on the way to events.
  2. Choose events and arrivals/departures that minimize sensory overload.  You might arrive first and leave before the event gets too crowded or too loud.  You might arrive later and just have a few people around.  Skipping the fireworks and playing in the basement isn’t a loss, it’s a big win if your child is able to sleep calmly tonight.  You can still have fun today, but really try to see the day through your child’s sensory perspective.  Sudden outbursts will not be as much of a mystery if you can manage to see things his way.
  3. Use the techniques and equipment that you have available to you.  Yes, the pressure vest and the headphones look a little unusual in public, but so does a screaming child.
  4. Bring foods that your child is familiar with to a gathering.  One meal of cheerios or mac and cheese won’t be the end of things, and most hosts want your child to enjoy himself.
  5. Don’t forget some of the little sensory tricks your occupational therapist may have shared with you.  Provide a drink with a curly straw or have him snack on  a chewy bagel (unless your child chokes on chewy foods) to get calming mouth sensory input.  Have him push the wagon with the cooler for heavy work.  Ask him to climb up and down the deck stairs safely for more heavy work.  Give him napkins to count or fold, or plastic utensils to sort.  This kind of focus can be very calming.

Enjoy your holiday, and celebrate independence everywhere and for everyone!

By Cathy Collyer

I am a licensed occupational therapist, licensed massage therapist, and certified CBT-i sleep coach in private practice in the NYC area. I have over 25 years of professional experience in adult and pediatric treatment. It has been a joy to help people of all ages improve their ability to grow and thrive! Occupational therapists are focused on enhancing a client's functioning in everyday life. We are practical healthcare providers, interested in teaching, adapting actions and environments, and building a client's useful skills for living their best life, regardless of their challenges. I am the author of five books, including "Staying In The Room: Managing Medical And Dental Care When You Have DID" and "The Practical Guide To Toilet Training the Autistic Child". I lecture on many subjects, including sleep, trauma, and development. Contact me to learn more about how I can help you achieve YOUR goals!


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