By Kodey Toney
You're A Firework
With the Fourth of July weekend upon us I want to take a little time to talk about sensory issues related to autism spectrum disorder and coping with these issues.
As many of you already know autism generally comes along with other issues. This is why it is a spectrum disorder. The comorbitity (a fancy name for multiple diagnosis) usually is accompanied by things such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) like Konner, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), or a number of other things for your child to deal with.
The SPD is something to really consider as you make plans for Independence Day weekend. While we want to celebrate our freedoms and enjoy the fireworks displays we also want to make sure that we are not torturing our loved ones.
Don't forget that children in the spect tend to have heightened senses. They see, smell, feel, taste, and certainly hear things differently from most. This is why sitting in a noisy gymnasium or cafeteria are painful and very difficult for a person on the spectrum.
Most years we visit the big fireworks display the local fire department puts on in the next town over. It's s great display that lasts about 15-20 minutes usually and has many large explosions. Those bombastic pyrotechnics are louder than most over-the-counter fireworks, and are followed by a small aftershock. These things are enough to hurt a child on the spectrum and cause them to be more than a little anxious.
I tend to try to monitor Konner and make sure that he doesn't get too anxious. His heartbeat begins to race, and of course he covered his ears.
In the past we have tried a couple things that tend to help. We have given him headphones or ear buds to keep in his ears. Sometimes they have music running through them, and sometimes the are just there to muffle the sound. These have worked pretty well, although I would make sure they are okay with having something touching their ears.
We have also used ear plugs. We have tried many different types, and they all seem to work well for him.
We have even used our own hands to shield the noise.
I know these are just a few ideas, but I want everyone to be aware of their senses and not over do it for the holiday.