Hopebridge shares tips for a sensory-friendly Fourth of July

BCBA-approved safety tips and activities for all children this Independence Day

Indianapolis, Indiana, UNITED STATES


Indianapolis, IN, June 27, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Family, friends and community members can make Independence Day more enjoyable [KA1] for their loved ones with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) this year with several safety tips and tricks from board certified behavioral analysts (BCBA) at Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers, one of the largest autism therapy providers in the nation.

Though many children love the sights and sounds of Independence Day, those with autism, sensory processing disorders or other developmental delays may find it overwhelming. According to the CDC, 1 in every 44 children is diagnosed with autism. This increase in prevalence means Independence Day can be extra stressful for many families with loved ones on the spectrum.

“How a family with autism celebrates Independence Day depends on their lifestyle and their child’s needs,” said Hopebridge founder, Kim Strunk. “While some of our kiddos are fascinated by bright lights and sounds, others shy away from them. We encourage the public to be mindful of the autism community during this holiday and supportive of families who may celebrate a bit differently to accommodate sensory sensitivities.”

Children on the spectrum, as well as neurodivergent adults, are expected to benefit from the following tips, as they cover everything from seasonal sensory triggers to party preparation.

Hopebridge’s top Independence Day tips are:

Follow safety instructions, regulations and age restrictions on fireworks – All community members benefit when safety guidelines are followed. Prior to the holiday, make sure to purchase age and location-appropriate fireworks and research your neighborhood’s quiet hours.

Communicate the day’s festivities in advance – Allow your child to mentally prepare for the holiday by letting them know what to expect, including schedules, activities, people in attendance and food to eat.

Connect with local emergency response departments before the holiday – While not Independence Day-specific, this step can proactively protect your child in case of an emergency. Most fire and police departments offer opportunities for families to submit disability-related information about their children for them to keep on file.

Give your child the power to make their own choices – Ask your child where they want to sit, what they want to eat and what activities they want to participate in. This allows them more control over what’s happening in their environment and can create a more welcoming space.

Create a safe space – To decrease the risk of running to escape the noise, remind children that they can ask for a break either verbally or with a picture card or device. Give a child their own special spot during festivities that feels safe and provide comfort items such as headphones, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Design an exit strategy – Be aware of your child’s signs and signals of distress to know when they are overwhelmed and need to move to a quieter environment or leave entirely. Share an exit strategy with your family and friends so the whole group knows what to do to leave quickly and smoothly.

Plan a fun distraction - Pack a device to play movies or music to distract a child in case they become overwhelmed. If fireworks or festivities in your neighborhood become too much, consider leaving for the evening to do something that your child enjoys.  

These suggestions are easily customizable so each family can adapt them to their own individual needs, much like the personalized therapy programs offered at Hopebridge.

If the traditional ways to celebrate the Fourth of July – large gatherings, barbeques and fireworks – aren’t feasible for a family, there are still many ways children with autism can enjoy the holiday. Caregivers can use the following recommendations to celebrate Independence Day in ways that work for them.

  • Plan sensory-friendly crafts or games, such as playing in a sandbox, making slime or building an obstacle course.
  • Take the entire family to the movie theater.
  • Have a family night in and make ice cream and other summer favorites.
  • Attend an autism-friendly summer camp.

As one of the largest autism therapy providers in the nation, Hopebridge serves children and families through its interdisciplinary, pediatric therapy options that include ABA, occupational therapy, speech therapy and feeding therapy. To learn more about what Hopebridge offers and to schedule a diagnostic assessment or therapy evaluation at one of its 100+ center locations around the country, fill out the form at http://hopebridge.com/contact.

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About Hopebridge

Hopebridge was founded in 2005 to serve the growing need for autism treatment services and to improve the lives of affected children and families. Hopebridge is committed to providing personalized outpatient ABA, occupational, speech and feeding therapies for children touched by autism spectrum disorder and behavioral, physical, social, communication and sensory challenges. Hopebridge provides a trusted place where they can receive the care, support and hope they deserve.

From its start in Indiana, Hopebridge continues to open state-of-the-art autism therapy centers in new communities to reach patients and families who need services. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Hopebridge operates over 100 centers in 12 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio and Tennessee.

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