Remember, remember the 5th of November…
My guess is, many parents of children on the autism spectrum remember the 5th of November and remember it well!
The 5th of November is a night that will see the skies above us alight in an array of stunning, spectacular colours, but that’s not all we will see! Many of us throughout Britain will see not just our pets dart around the house in distress, but also a child or loved one.
Bonfire night is celebrated by huge numbers whether it’s by attending a large public display or hosting their own back yard antics. For some it’s a night of fun and laughter, a chance to meet friends, drink wine out of plastic beakers while eating hot-dogs smothered in mustard. For others it’s a night of hiding, turning up the TV and comforting their frighten child.
We grow up looking forward to such events, we loved them as a child and can’t wait to share a night stood by the bonfire with our own children. What is there not to like about this fun and eventful night?
Why don’t you ask that question to a child on the autism spectrum!
No, not all hate fireworks, but a large proportion of children and adults on the autism spectrum will spend the year dreading it! I wrote a last year about little mans fear of the firework! He thinks they are stunning and at a distance his not to bad with the big bang. But when there’s rockets flying about above his head, then bursting into a glittering infusion of colour, my child will likely do what I refer to as the “Army drop and crawl” Basically he fears the fireworks will come clashing back down on top of him, he freezes then drops, before embanking on his army crawl to safety. Despite this reaction, my little man could hold a sparkler all night long. As I explained before, it’s a sensory reaction, because the firework is above him and he cannot judge the distance between himself and the exploding firework, he then begins to fear it! My Little man feels much safer stood behind a pane of glass watching fireworks from the safety of his home.
For many people on the autism spectrum the dislike of fireworks relates to sensory sensitivity as-well as the dislike of “social gatherings”.
Even those who are not on the spectrum can have difficulties tolerating the loudness of a firework display, especially a big one! For the person with autism, this sensitivity to noise is sometimes so overbearing it causes actual pain. Now, can you even begin to imagine how hard that must be? I can’t and thank myself lucky that I do not experience such a difficulty. However this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter, because it does, it really does! Little man only has problems when we go out, so of course we avoid the public displays, or one parent stays home while the other treats the other children to a trip to our local display. That’s just how it is and always has been. I think that we are quite lucky, some children experience such anxiety that they require comfort from their parent throughout the night meaning little sleep is had by many.
I’m not trying to make you all feel guilty, nor am I saying this in the hope that you wont go to your local fireworks display or celebrate in your own way. I’m just asking that you all spare a thought for the families housing an autistic child or adult. I simply ask that as much fun as bonfire night can be, take a second to stop and think… Light your fireworks at a reasonable hour! Who is your neighbour, do you know a family affected by autism? Keep it early, keep it safe, keep it before 9 p.m.! That is all I ask!
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