Bonfire Night: How to enjoy fireworks with autism

Last updated at 15:33
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Bonfire Night is just around the corner and that means fireworks, bonfires and sparklers!

However, for some kids with autism, the loud bangs and flashes can be pretty stressful.

Autism is the name for a range of conditions which affect how a person communicates and interacts with the world around them, as well as their interests and behaviour.

Around one in every 100 people in the UK have autism.

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Ryan explains how he enjoys fireworks on Bonfire Night with his mum

Some people with autism can experience sights, sounds, smells, touch and taste a bit differently, and sometimes more intensely.

Bonfire night can be difficult, as the surprise, loudness and brightness of the fireworks can cause them to become anxious and stressed.

Beth Robertson, the Campaigns Manager at the National Autistic Society, said: "Bonfire night is an exciting time of year, including for many autistic children and adults. But it can also be really upsetting and overwhelming. The busy crowds, unexpected flashes and loud bangs from fireworks can trigger a lot of anxiety."

"But good planning and good communication make a huge difference - and make sure everyone can be part of this autumn tradition."

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Tips for enjoying Bonfire Night with autism

We spoke to Ryan, who has autism, and his Mum, to see how they enjoy Bonfire Night together.

His tips are:

  • Wear noise cancelling headphones, to block out the bangs, and watch videos to distract yourself if you feel anxious.
  • Make a den, or somewhere you feel cosy and safe.
  • Cuddle a pet if you have one!
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The National Autistic Society also has a few tips for helping a friend or family member to prepare for Bonfire Night when they have autism.

They are:

  • Plan ahead - Making a countdown calendar means they will be more prepared and aware that the event is happening. Also watching videos of fireworks or sparklers will also help familiarise them with what to expect.
  • Have drinks and snacks - These can help to be a distraction.
  • Wear headphones or ear muffs - They can really help to block out the loud noise.
  • Watch from further away - Crowds of people can be stressful for people with autism, but they can still enjoy the fireworks from a bit farther away.
  • Celebrate at home - Being in an environment where your friend or family member with autism feels safe can really help them to feel a bit more comfortable. It also means if you let off fireworks or light sparklers, they know when it is going to happen, so it is less of a surprise.
  • Have a virtual Bonfire Night - Watching fireworks on the TV or a computer can also be fun, and means you can control how loud the fireworks are.
  • Keep calm - Staying calm, relaxed and happy, could help to reassure your friend or family member with autism too.

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