Guest blogger Kimberly Drew has learned a few things over the years about how to create a happy special needs Fourth of July for her daughter, Abbey, who lives with multiple special needs. Today, she offers three tips about how to craft good special needs fourth of July memories for the entire family.

Happy Special Needs Fourth of July!

I grew up in a small town and state where it is legal to buy and set off fireworks. Every year we had a cookout and then went to a neighboring town for a Fourth of July fireworks show. We followed up that show with sparklers and small fireworks to do as a family at home. I loved it! After a long night of celebration, we would collapse into bed and sleep in the next day. When I became a mom, this was a holiday I couldn’t wait to celebrate with my own children. It’s funny how something that seems so simple can turn into such a hurdle when you have a child with multiple disabilities.

Special Needs Fourth of July Tip #1

For starters, cookouts can be a nightmare for a child with chewing and swallowing problems. Abbey once had to have emergency surgery because she helped herself to a slice of watermelon at a friend’s house. Don’t even get me started on hot dogs and chips! Now we bring “Abbey safe” food with us wherever we go. Parents with children with food allergies understand this as well. The last way you want to spend your holiday is in an emergency room with worry and question weighing on your heart.

Special Needs Fourth of July Tip #2

If we can get past the cookout, we have to get through the fireworks show. A lot of children are extremely sensitive to the loud noises associated with a fireworks production. That doesn’t mean you have to skip the show, but it does mean you have to do some research about where you can park your car, or sit as a family that is far enough away to see the show without the big booms. The first few times we tried fireworks with Abbey she was terrified. We watched one year from the car, and now that she is older she loves them. This is true for a lot of kids. It’s nice to know some things they will outgrow!

Special Needs Fourth of July Tip #3

Last, we had to let go of fireworks at home. The last thing I need is a burn from a sparkler or an accidental fly away that she doesn’t have the reflexes to move out of the way from! This was a happy memory for me, so I felt a little sad that we wouldn’t get to continue this tradition, but over time you learn to let go of the less important traditions in order to preserve the big ones. It helps that we eventually moved to a state where fireworks are illegal anyway. But if you are in a neighborhood like the one I grew up in, maybe you can just drive a little further away for the fireworks show so that your kiddos are too tired to think about it when they get home?

The good news is this: Holidays are going to look a little different in your house, but they can still be celebrated! Don’t stay home this Fourth of July!

Your Special Needs Fourth of July Tips

How does your family make a happy special needs Fourth of July for your family? Leave your ideas in the comment box.

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