Fireworks, loud music, bright lights, and busy crowds—New Year’s Eve can be a period of panic and anxiety for children dealing with autism.
This time of the year brings about overwhelming sensory input, with sights and sounds that are often overbearing. It also brings unexpected changes in schedules and an increase in social interaction; and, lest we forget, loud, booming fireworks.
Autism, Sensory Issues, and Noise Sensitivity
Children diagnosed with autism have always had to deal with sensory issues. According to a published study of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, children with autism show hypersensitivity in the regions of the brain that process sensory information and emotions when exposed to “irritating noises or images.”
These children have adverse responses to specific sounds, smells, sights, and movement. It’s also common for a child dealing with the disorder to have trouble filtering out background sounds. This means New Year’s Eve could be a stressful time for children with the condition.
What Can Parents Do?
Preparation is necessary. Perhaps watch YouTube videos of New Year’s Eve fireworks with your son or daughter on the days leading up to the event. Prepare some sensory-friendly activities, too. Make a New Year’s Eve-themed sensory bottle or bin, which can be reassuring for kids who suffer from sensory issues. Fill that bin with balloons, streamers, confetti, glow sticks—or whatever else your kids might enjoy.
Remember that every child with autism is different, however. A coping mechanism for one child might not work for another. Try different things to know what works best for your family.
Work with ABC Pediatrics for occupational therapy sessions, too. An occupational therapist will play fun games with your child; while the games may seem like normal activities, these are specially designed to acclimate the child’s body to sensory input.
An occupational therapist may also conduct listening therapy. This involves the use of special musical pieces that may help your child feel more balanced and alert.
Don’t let the booming lights and sounds of New Year’s Eve get in the way of your child’s enjoyment. Work with ABC Pediatrics; we will provide your child the special care they deserve. Fill out our contact form or call us at (972) 410 – 529, today.