Shooting for the Moon with Ryan

Life in the World of Autism

Fireworks, Loud Booms, and No Sleep


IMG_1847Yesterday was the first day in a month that we did not hear fireworks at our house. I think the Fourth of July fireworks season is finally over. We survived another year, and that’s really saying something when you have a sound sensitive child on the spectrum.

Last year, on the Fourth of July, we thought we were very clever by booking a hotel room in a neighboring state where fireworks are illegal. We knew that the explosions in our neighborhood would be so loud and go on for so long that none of us would get any sleep. Ryan fell asleep easily at the hotel, and by the time we heard some distant booms from displays that were far away, Ryan was sound asleep and didn’t hear them.

But this year, Ryan became hyper vigilant to firework sounds. If he heard a boom while in bed, even if it was far away, he would get up, turn on the light, and refuse to go back to sleep. Usually, this would happen the minute I said good night, turned off the light and shut his bedroom door. “I don’t want to go to sleep,” he’d say. “I’m afraid they’re going to wake me up.” His little body would tense up. His eyes would be wide open. He couldn’t try to relax until there were no more booms to be heard, usually some time around 11:30 or midnight.

Some nights, I just couldn’t imagine who felt the need to set off these fireworks so late on a weeknight. I was exhausted, and so was my child who needed to get up early the next morning for camp. One time I approached my neighbor and politely asked if the fireworks display could end early. She looked incredulous that I would even ask such and question and said she has a two year old who is o.k. with loud booms and goes to bed at midnight. Why can’t my seven year old do the same?

Well, this year at the hotel it didn’t go quite as well. We decided to spend two nights in the hotel. The only problem is, the residential neighborhood behind the hotel decided to have their own fireworks display both nights and the loud booms went on past 11. We couldn’t believe our luck. Was there no place to go to get away from the noise?

So we are all exhausted right now. I feel like I’m up against a brick wall when it comes to fireworks. Somehow, they are very important to a lot of people and their attitude is everyone else needs to tolerate the noise. I was told by a neighbor that she has a special needs son and the he learned to tolerate fireworks. Maybe my son should, too.

My only plea is for people to remember that as fun as fireworks are, they are upsetting to many people. They not only upset some children with special needs, but also veterans with post traumatic stress disorder and pets. While we expect to hear fireworks on the fourth of July, people need to be considerate on other days. Don’t set off fireworks past 10 p.m., especially on week nights. Also, set all of you fireworks off one after another and get your display over with. Don’t set off two or three, then wait 25 minutes and set off another. That 25 minutes is enough time for me to think the fireworks are over, get my child back to bed, only to wake him back up with another unexpected “boom!”

We’re already trying to figure out where to go next year on the Fourth of July. Any suggestions? We’re not sure a fireworks free zone exists!


Author: ryansmom

I'm a wife, mother, teacher, writer, and advocate of autism. I have a 7 year old son on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum. I love writing about the world of autism and our families' daily adventures as we navigate through both stormy and calm waters. Writing this blog is truly therapeutic for me. I hope other families dealing with autism will read this blog and discover that they are not alone.

2 thoughts on “Fireworks, Loud Booms, and No Sleep

  1. This may sound silly but last year during the 4th of July season we were in Puerto Rico…They don’t set off ANY Fireworks. Maybe that would be a good week to plan a vacation.


  2. Oh, I feel your pain and frustration on this one! We went through this for a longggg time. My son eventually outgrew the anxiety about it, but it was awful for 9 years of his life.


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