5 Sensory Survival Tips for a Star Spangled 4th of July

June 19, 2017 by Heather Koren


Oooh! Ahhh! We celebrate our country’s independence with beautiful firework displays, festivals, music, and crowds every summer. But not everyone enjoys the noise or the crowds. For children and adults with a sensory processing disorder it can be scary or stressful instead of a pleasurable celebration.

Happy Sensory Independence Day

Use tips below for a fun, enjoyable fireworks celebration.

  1. Prepare and Practice: Watch YouTube videos of fireworks, slowly increasing the volume. Visit your local store and look at the different types of fireworks. If feeling brave, try out some Snakes, Spinners, Sparklers, or Snaps at home to get used to the sights and sounds.
  2. Start Small: If this will be the first fireworks for the person with a sensory concerns, start small by sitting farther away from the hub of the crowd. See and hear the fireworks from a safe distance.
  3. Safe Place: Set up a special “safe” place for the child or adult. This is their very own personal space that only they will use if feeling overwhelmed. For example, a favorite chair or blanket that only they sit on.
  4. Exit Strategy: Be prepared if a quick exit is needed. When sensory stimulation is just too much, have a plan in place. Whether it’s hiding under a blanket or leaving the area, be ready to implement your plan. If you are attending at your local park, visit beforehand to decide where you will park, walk, and sit.
  5. Pack your Survival Kit:
    • Headphones: reduce or cancel out the noise if needed
    • Sunglasses: reduce visual stimulation
    • Comfort Item: have a favorite blanket, toy, book, or other item on hand to promote feelings of calm
    • Snug Vest: reduce anxiety and stress with deep pressure therapy; increase air pressure as needed and wear the hood for even more reduction in auditory and visual stimulation
Heather Koren

Heather Koren believes that all individuals, no matter their abilities can accomplish goals and dreams with the right tools. She began her career as a speech-language pathology assistant for individuals with severe and profound disabilities. Later she worked for United Cerebral Palsy as an AT Specialist where she developed communication and vocational training programs. A move to North Carolina provided the opportunity to teach both undergraduate and graduate level assistive technology classes in the Special Education Department at East Carolina University. Heather holds a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Science and Technology from University of Pittsburgh.

5 Sensory Survival Tips for a Star Spangled 4th of July was last modified: June 19th, 2017 by Webmaster