As summer approaches, there are a few holidays and celebrations that take place in our country. It begins with Memorial Day, then July 4th, and it closes on the unofficial end of the summer, Labor Day. These holidays are wonderful, because we celebrate those who lost their lives for our country. We remember our nation’s independence, and lastly we honor the American labor movement. These holidays are fun with the many parades, ceremonies, and more. However, it can be difficult for some children with special needs and their families.
These events and festivities can attract a lot of people, which is good, but sometimes the parades, crowds, loud music, and fireworks, is too much for a child with special needs. However, there are ways that you can make it enjoyable for everyone.
1- Take items to make your child comfortable – When Nate was young and we would attend barbecues or other functions, I learned that he needed a few toys to keep him occupied. This kept him content for a while. In addition to a toy, I also had a change of clothes for Nate. My son is very particular. He doesn’t like to be cold and he doesn’t like to be overly hot. And with the unpredictability of the weather, a change of clothes was always needed.
2- Take a chair – Nate uses a wheelchair for long distances, however when attending an event on grass or sand, using his wheelchair is not easy. Having one of those portable folding chairs in a bag, was always convenient and helpful for my son.
3- Take extra food items – When Nate was younger, I would bring food to every event, even if food was being served. Nate doesn’t have food allergies, but he didn’t enjoy cold foods, such as salad, potato salad, and deli meats. So, I would take a warm meal, placing it in an insulated container, which made my son happy.
4- Ask for help – Sometimes we don’t want to ask for help, because we don’t want to feel as if we are bothering others. This was definitely my problem. Yet now, I am completely over not asking. Whenever I am at an event with family or friends, it is normal for me to ask someone to briefly watch Nate so I can step away. If I don’t ask, I love that someone will offer to watch him, which is a blessing to me.
5- Decide how long you will stay – Whenever Nate and I went out, I always felt obligated to stay at an event the entire time. I soon realized that it was impossible. Some events can be too consuming with people and activities, which is too much for my child. So, prior to the event I notified the host that I would attend, however my stay may be short, depending on how Nate was feeling. This helped to end my feelings of guilt for leaving an event early.
Putting these practices in place during the holidays has helped me tremendously through the years. And I hope and pray that they are helpful to you, in making this season one that is enjoyable to you and your child with special needs.