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  • Writer's pictureSarah Lewis, M.Ed., BCBA

Enjoying Independence Day as a Special Needs Parent


Dixon, IL Fireworks 2023

The Fourth of July is a time for celebration, fireworks, and quality family time. For parents of children with autism, it's essential to plan ahead and create an enjoyable experience that caters to their unique needs. At the Autism Center of Sauk Valley, we understand the importance of a well-prepared and inclusive celebration. In this blog post, we'll provide tips on how to have a fun and sensory-friendly Fourth of July with your child on the autism spectrum in Sterling, Rock Falls, Dixon, and surrounding areas.


Child with autism Dixon, IL

Prepare for sensory concerns:

Fireworks can be overwhelming for individuals with sensory sensitivities. Consider noise-canceling headphones to reduce the sound impact. If your child is sensitive to bright lights, bring sunglasses to minimize visual stimulation. Provide a safe space where your child can retreat if they feel overwhelmed.


Fourth of July with ASD

Create a visual schedule:

Help your child understand and anticipate the day's activities by creating a visual schedule. Use pictures or symbols to outline the events of the day, such as a barbecue, games, or fireworks. This visual aid will provide structure and reduce anxiety.


Sterling, IL Fireworks Display 2023

Have a practice run:

If your child has never experienced fireworks before, it may be helpful to have a practice run. Find videos online or visit a local park to watch fireworks from a distance. This will allow your child to become familiar with the sights and sounds in a controlled environment. Ensure your child is a safe distance from the fireworks.


July 4th cookout Sauk Valley, Illinois

Plan a sensory-friendly celebration:

Consider hosting a sensory-friendly gathering or attending an inclusive community event. These events often offer quieter fireworks displays, sensory-friendly activities, and accommodations for individuals with autism. Reach out to local community centers, autism organizations, or city officials to inquire about sensory-friendly options.


By implementing these tips and preparing in advance, you can create an enjoyable and inclusive Fourth of July experience for your child with autism. Embrace the festivities, celebrate our nation's independence, and make lasting memories with your family. Happy Fourth of July from the Autism Center of Sauk Valley!


Fireworks Display Information for 2023:


Sterling and Rock Falls, IL: The Sterling/Rock Falls fireworks display will take place on Friday, June 30th, 2023, starting at dusk.


Dixon: Dixon's fireworks display is held on Monday, July 3rd, 2023, beginning at 9:30PM.


Walnut: Walnut's fireworks take place on Sunday, July 2nd, 2023, beginning at 7:30PM.


Prophetstown: Prophetstown will hold their fireworks display on Saturday, July 1st, 2023, with the show beginning at dusk.


Disclaimer: this post does not contain treatment recommendations as a professional relationship has not been established. For children whom the Autism Center has not directly observed, there is not enough information to make any specific treatment recommendation as treatment recommendations would be based on a subjective report of the child’s behavior. Please contact us if you have any questions.

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