Oct 31, 2023

Bonfire Night and Supporting Children with Sensory Needs

Jane Magnani
Jane Magnani
Bonfire Night and Supporting Children with Sensory Needs

In some cases, this event may become too loud and overwhelming for children who are neurodivergent or have sensory difficulties. However, this does not mean they cannot participate in the festivities.

It is crucial to ensure that our little ones are included and made to feel welcome, regardless of their needs. They simply require an inclusive, accommodating environment, sensitivity, and understanding.


Here are some strategies to help you: 


Prepare in Advance


  • Preparing in advance will be extremely helpful, and you prepare your little one for things that will come, supporting their expectations, the sights, sounds, and sensations.

  • Be aware of their sensory sensitivities. Consider providing noise-cancelling headphones or ear defenders to protect against loud noises.

  • Create a safe and quiet space where your child can retreat if they feel overwhelmed. This could be inside your home or a designated area at the event.


Describe the Event


To support understanding and minimise anxiety

  • Using visual aids like pictures, photos, symbols, objects, schedules and social stories to guide them through the sequence of events.

  • Use simple language, movement, gestures, and Makaton signs to support communication, language and understanding.



Familiarity with Fireworks and Bonfires


  • Show your little one videos of fireworks and discuss what you can see; describe the colours, the shapes, and the sounds, and talk about how loud they can get. Gradually introduce the concept to reduce anxiety.



Provide comfort items


  • Provide them with snacks, drinks, a blanket, a toy, a favourite book, etc, any of their comfort things that help soothe your child, provide a nice distraction and help keep them calm.


Follow Their Lead


  • Watch your little one cues and stay attuned to their actions and feelings. If they need a break or show signs of becoming overwhelmed, engage them in something else, sing a favourite song, use their comfort toy, etc, to provide reassurance and distraction.

  • Be flexible. If your child has had enough, respect their decision to leave the event.

  • Watch fireworks online

  • Choose a time that aligns with their routine and ensure they are well-rested. Avoid late-night displays that might disrupt their sleep.

  • If attending a live display is too overwhelming, consider watching fireworks online or on TV. This allows your little one to enjoy the spectacle from home.


Plan a Soothing Bedtime


  • If you stay indoors for Bonfire night, setting a soothing bedtime routine can help ease their anxiety about the loud noises outside. 

  • This may include an earlier bedtime for young children so that they can sleep through a lot of the noise. Include a relaxing bath, calming music, reading a favourite story and cuddling to a favourite toy in your routine.

  •  If your little one does venture outside to watch the fireworks, It can be a super exciting experience! 

  • That's why a soothing bedtime routine can still be beneficial. It can help them settle down and reduce stress after such a stimulating time.


Remember that every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another.

Tailor your approach to your little one specific needs and preferences. 

For more activity ideas, Celebrating Bonfire Night with Children is packed with easy and simple activities to try with your little one at home.


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