Sensory-friendly fun for people with autism, amid upcoming Fourth of July weekend

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) – Fourth of July is around the corner, which means fireworks will soon light up the sky along the Grand Strand. However, the loud booms and bright flashing lights can be very uncomfortable for people who struggle with sensory issues, said an official with Champion Autism Network. 

News13’s Claire Purnell was at one of the sensory-friendly events hosted by Champion Autism Network in Market Commons and is sharing ways people with sensory sensitivity can enjoy the Fourth of July holiday more. 

Purnell attended a sensory-friendly movie screening where the theater lights were turned up and the volume was turned down to make the experience more enjoyable for people with autism. 

C-A-N officials said events like Fourth of July fireworks aren’t always as accommodating. 

Stephanie Ducady, a Grand 14 employee involved with the sensory-friendly movie event, said the fireworks are sometimes too loud and bother her because she is sensitive to noises. 

When we think of the Fourth of July, a lot of us picture fireworks and it is a yearly American tradition, but for some families, it can be a hard day especially when someone you love has autism and faces sensory issues. 

Becky Large, executive director of Champion Autism Network, said the sensory-friendly event is a chance to do something different. 

“The boom and the lights and the crowd are really really overwhelming,” Large said. “A lot of families grew up with fireworks and barbeques being a summer tradition and to keep up the tradition we try to find better ways for loved ones with autism to have a better experience.” 

Large, recommended sunglasses for the bright lights, ear defenders for the loud sounds and crowds, and to stay to the periphery if you can and hold on. 

Stephanie Ducady, a Grand 14 employee said she doesn’t like fireworks, but there are sensory-friendly activities she enjoys on holidays that keep her away from big crowds and loud noises. 

“I made a Fourth of July T-shirt mine has red, white and blue and it has starfish on it,” she said.

Large said it’s best for some families to camp out at home and offer loved ones with autism support where they can. Your loved ones with autism may rock, cry, scream and hold their ears, but Large said it’s important to remember that it’s not going to last forever. 

Champion Autism Network offers sensory-friendly events every month.