Fourth of July fireworks can create anxiety for children living with autism

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) —  As the country celebrates its independence on the Fourth of July, there are some people who will be avoiding the activities.

“He freaks out for the first minute then we can calm him down,” said Ron Marzuolo. Ron’s two-and-a-half year old son, Julian has autism. Loud noises are disruptive. “He will hear the loud noise and he will come running to me or mom,” said Marzuolo.

Julian isn’t alone. Many children living with autism will have trouble this holiday. “Autism is a spectrum. Some children are going to react with anxiety type of responses covering their ears, maybe more of a screaming behavior,” said Blair Jacobsen, who is a behavior analyst with Behavioral Consulting Tampa Bay. Jacobsen works with children with Autism daily.

The issue isn’t firework shows, but people who decide to light fireworks at home. “I think communication is key, so whether you’re communicating as a parent of a child with autism or whether you’re communicating just as a neighbor but going to your neighbors and just making them aware that your child may have reactions to those fireworks,” said Jacobsen.

Jacobsen recommends talking to your neighbor before firing of fireworks.

“If your child is going to have a reaction and your neighbor is planning to do a big fireworks display then you might want to do something like provide your child with headphones.” said Jacobsen.

Marzuolo knows he will spend some time comforting Julia this holiday. “I know the fourth is coming so I’m going to be holding him.”

Veterans groups also caution about fireworks. Some combat veterans who are living with PTSD may have symptoms after hearing fireworks.

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