It is summertime and with summer here comes the holiday most associated with fireworks. And it is right around the corner.

The Fourth of July!

For many this means picnics, parties, and fun. And THIS year it really does mean that because people will be able to get together more safely and events like parades, fun runs and the like are ON again this year.

But what about if those “Fun” events are actually work instead?

For those who have a special needs child in their life may find this to be the case.

So how do you help them enjoy the fun in the best way they can?

For those who don’t know, my daughter, Elizabeth, has special needs. She has global dyspraxia and SPD (sensory processing disorder) She is 24 years old currently. So we have had a few July 4th experiences to learn how to bend them world a bit for her. So I thought I would offer a few things we did and do.

KNOW YOUR CHILD

I have said this so often but it holds true as the best first step. Knowing your child and their needs helps you advocate for them even when the thing you are advocating for is may just a seat far away from the loud parade coming down the street.

Knowing what they like, fear or cannot be around helps you plan the day. A holiday is not, and trust me on this one, the time to TRY to see if just maybe the firetrucks won’t make them hide and cry.

BRING WHAT THEY NEED

If it is noise cancelling headphones? Bring them. A comfy seat cushion so they can fidget less as they wait for the parade to start? Bring it. Maybe it is a toy/doll/fidget. Bring it. For Elizabeth it is her headphones for her to use with her phone to listen to music as she waits. She loves them and packs them up because she knows what she needs.

Bring what they need to keep their body and mind in a place of calm. That calm will spill over to everyone!

TALK TO YOUR CHILD

Communicating with your child the way they are able.

Tell them what the plans are.

What you are going to do

What they are going to see, hear, feel, smell

All of the above helps to lessen the stress on their systems and helps them prepare for transitions better. For Elizabeth a loose written schedule helps her mentally prepare for a big day.

HAVE A PLAN B

Truth is, despite the above talking and planning life steps in and something happens that challenges your child. Having a plan B is a big help. Maybe it is taking 2 cars to the late fireworks or packing their favorite movie and player so if they are overloaded at a party they can head to a quiet space.

The plan B is the nice safety net for when things just don’t go well and you need to make a change. Like my Dad used to say to me when I was making the case for NOT wearing my jacket. Better to have it and not need it, than needing it and not having it.

TAKE THE WIN IN ANY FORM

Celebrate them all.

Little wins

Big wins

A few more minutes that your child did this or that!

Take the good and know your child worked hard for it!

WRITE DOWN THE EXPERIENCE

I mean this! Write down what worked this year. What was a struggle and what you want to remember for next year and tuck it into a calendar or journal to use as a guide for the next time. I know our children are always growing and changing but sometimes that baseline helps guide you for next time.

TALK TO YOUR CHILD

Yep! Communicating with your child the way they can about how they feel after the event helps both sides understand each others feelings and emotions.

I used to like to talk to Elizabeth and hear her feelings on the day or event and I could tell her how we felt the day went. Sort of debriefing and it helps to share thoughts and feelings.

So I hope these are helpful and I hope the events of the weekend are fun and that great memories are made!

I wish everyone a peaceful week!

Michele Gianetti author of I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey