Every Fourth of July we celebrate independence and freedom for all of us as American Citizens. This important day that makes us proud is usually paired along with fireworks and community celebrations that congregate hundreds and thousands of people gathered along to celebrate the greatness of our country. Though, these loud celebrations that bring excitement to the majority are not as exciting for many people with disabilities and their families who are forced to stay or leave home due to common stressors as fireworks and crowded areas.
It’s really a hard reality that we may not know first-hand or to which we haven’t been exposed to. As we celebrate the wonder of freedom, let’s don’t forget those whose voices are not as loud due to a disability or lack of community awareness. You have the right to celebrate and have fun as much as you want, but please consider the following:
- For many people with sensory challenges or PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, fireworks are triggers that might alter their self-regulation and cause intense episodes of anxiety or stress. If you are planning on using fireworks in your neighborhood or community, please ask your neighbors if that is fine with them or if there is someone in the risk of having a crisis. Again, we understand it might feel not fair to limit the fun due to someone else’s challenges but for people with sensory issues, PTSD or other disabilities, their response is not optional and the trauma is a tough reality that we can lessen or avoid when we show compassion and respect to their unique needs.
- For some people with disabilities, sensory challenges are not an issue but accessibility is crucial for them to actively participate in these community events like everyone else. Keep in mind that many times celebrations like this one bring a lot of stress and anxiety due to lack of parking space or limited space for moving. That said when you decide to park in non-authorized parking spaces, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes, or you block ramps or limit public spaces, you may be limiting the accessibility of someone with a disability who needs more space to move around and gain access to the premises. Please be respectful and considerate.
We wish you a happy 4th of July!! Freedom and independence is a gift we experience every single day. Let’s be sure that is the case for those with disabilities as well.