Imagine someone takes you to a hot open field with lots of unfamiliar people milling about where you then wait for several hours until darkness falls, at which point bright lights and loud sounds begin without warning and without regularity. And while you’re wondering what the hell is going on, everyone around you is cheering and clapping (contributing to the noise level) and telling you to relax and have a good time. Meanwhile, your brain is screaming at you to Get. Out. Now.
Fireworks and the Fourth of July seem automatic. Like just a part of the routine. Like something that Just Is. And this year (unlike last), it seems like some fireworks displays are actually happening.
But your Orchid Kid wants you to know that fireworks might be too much for them. (If you’re the parent of an Orchid Kid who loves fireworks, you can stop reading now and celebrate!)
Your Orchid Kid wants you to know that:
Fireworks are Too Loud.
Fireworks are Too Late.
Fireworks are Too Crowded.
Fireworks are Too Hot.
And Fireworks are Not Fun if they’re not fun
Because many of us have a positive association with fireworks displays, we sometimes forget that fireworks can be completely overwhelming to a brain that’s having trouble filtering out certain stimuli.
Fireworks celebrations can be a Sensory Sh*t Show for Orchid Kids.
If your Orchid Kid’s brain is really sensitive to loud sounds, then the unexpected timing of the fireworks blasts will send their system into a flight/fight/freeze state almost immediately. And while our brains can get into an alarmed state really quickly and easily, coming out of one takes many minutes if not longer.
If your Orchid Kid’s brain is really sensitive to visual input, then the crowds and bright lights can also send their system into that alarm state.
For kids whose brains depend on a regular bedtime in order to manage themselves, staying up late can really mess with them.
The good news is that — despite the feeling that the 4th isn’t a holiday without them —
Fireworks are optional.
There are other ways to celebrate that might work better for your family right now. Just for now.
You get to decide whether attending a fireworks display is a good idea for your family.
You get to decide who to take to the fireworks if you decide to go.
And you get to decide how else to celebrate the holiday if you decide to pass on the Loud, Late, Crowded, and Optional.
What works for your family on the Fourth of July? How do you help your Orchid Kid get through? I’d love to hear.