I’ve started to notice my daughter’s Autism progressing more. She’s more sound sensitive, even more scared of the washer, blender, and vacuum cleaner than she was before. The sounds of fireworks terrify her to the point she’s screaming with fright. She’s even more attractive to things with bright, flashing lights, like glow sticks or the light up wands you would find at Halloween or at concession stands at parades or carnivals.
Last night we had our Christmas parade here in Bryant, my hometown. I didn’t take her due to her reaction to the Christmas parade we went to in Benton the night before; Benton is the town next to us. She showed interest in the floats, decorated with bright Christmas lights, with cheerful people waving and shouting ‘Merry Christmas’. My daughter cheered and waved back at each one as they passed by us. Then she started to push away when the band started coming near us. I calmly walked behind the crowd of people that was around us, but started to dance along with the band’s music, showing her that it was okay.
As soon as the band passed by I put her up on top of my shoulders, where she would sit for majority of the parade. She resumed her clapping, waving, and cheering at the brightly lit floats driving past us, until the motorcycles started to approach us. She started to scream and try to climb down from my shoulders. I cuddled her as best I could, trying to comfort her as she hid her head in my chest, covering her ears and whimpering. I placed my hand over her head, bringing her into my chest and covering her ears as best as I could, telling her all will be okay. The more the motorcycles revved up their engines, the more she stirred and cried.
I continued to stay at the back of the crowd, far from the parade procession. Though as each loud group that passed by us, I would put her back up on my shoulders so she could enjoy the rest of the parade. It was soon coming to an end and it was time for the firetrucks to make their appearance, followed by the fat jolly man on top of the last firetruck. It wasn’t hard to tell they were nearing as each one would blast their sirens, causing it to echo off of the buildings, making it sound louder and louder as the approached. It was our Que to leave.
I didn’t need to stay any longer to see Santa and I knew she could care less if he was approaching or not. It was the loud sirens that had her terrified and her wanting to leave. So leave we did. She loves firetrucks, has several firetruck toys at home. She just doesn’t like the loud sirens that they have.
Children don’t come with handbooks or manuals, nor does Autism. It’s all a learning process. A few years ago I had to learn from these similar reactions that fireworks aren’t something that we’ll be into viewing each fourth of July. Every fourth we’ll go to the carnival, but we return home way before the crowd shows for the fireworks display. I try to distract her with cartoons, puzzles, and games on her kindle as each whistle, pop, and crackle noise is made from the neighbors setting off their own little fireworks.
Parades and fireworks won’t stop us from enjoying ourselves. We might not go off to watch it in person, but that won’t stop us from finding something else to entertain ourselves, such as a Disney movie in the comfort of our own home.