By Lisa Ackerman
Any holiday, raising a child or children with autism can be ANYTHING but a holiday. A wise dad of children and one of those on the spectrum told me a funny epiphany from his vacation: “If I went with my wife it would be a vacation. Since we took our kids, let’s just call this past week a “TRIP!” I couldn’t of summed it up better myself!
Autism can be TRIP! It can be challenging in every way – especially without a school routine and sadly many families go without vital services during summer months.
Here are some tips for this July 4th to make it more enjoyable:
1) Keep your kids safe: wandering and severe accidents can happen ANY TIME with children on the spectrum. These disasters are often a product of vacations or long breaks. Our friends from NAA have done a great job of advising parents on how to keep their children safe. It is time for a refresher course and to verify everything is in place.
- Check out www.autismsafety.org.
- Create a game of TAG! You are it! For every kid on the spectrum adults need to be hyper vigilant to make sure they are being watched. An adult game of tag to make sure a sober, on duty parent or adult is the primary watcher of the kids with autism needs to be on duty. You are never too old for a game of tag and this game has never been more important!
2) Protecting from dietary infractions
- Remind family members to make sure your child with allergies are only being fed their food, not all the party food. A special t-shirt stating “DON’T FEED ME! I have allergies!” with colorful markers is a great way to remind well intended folks to not be tempted.
- Should there be an accidental dietary infraction check out TACA’s way to deal with this outcome: http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/diet-infringement-or-infraction-help/
- TACA has thousands of recipes to try to celebrate the holidays accommodating most dietary restrictions! Check out http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/recipes-database/.
3) Enjoying fireworks
- Headphones with or without favorite music can make the difference of enjoying the fireworks or not! Home Depot has a variety of headphones that make the difference of fun versus painful with the overwhelming senses of fireworks for children with autism.
- A dear friend with a child on the spectrum had great success placing her special needs children in the car to watch the fireworks just yards away. They had a great “seat” and the slightly lowered sound really made it more comfortable. She has had peace of mind knowing her kids were with her and through chaos of fireworks they would be safe.
Even if you stay at home, I hope this week is safe, fun and more of vacation than a trip! Happy safe and enjoyable July 4th to you all. Please do not forget to thank a veteran or active service member for their service for our freedom while we celebrate!