visual strategies

FLASH! Visual Strategies to Make this Independence Day Fun for your Visually Sensitive Child

Independence Day is a holiday filled with picnics, parades, and fireworks. While many celebrate this day by coming together with friends and family in a hubbub of joy, anticipating a day filled with food and laughter, families with special needs children find the holiday to be a challenge.

Sensory Over-Responsivity (Sensory Defensiveness):

Sensory over-responsivity, or sensory defensiveness, occurs when a child (or adult) is presented
fireworks2Portrait with sensory stimuli that cannot be processed in a timely manner. This means that the brain and its sensory receptors is having difficulty in translating sensory stimuli into functional responses. This can cause sensory stimuli to feel painful or threatening, leading to a heightened “fight or flight” response.

Visual Over-Responsivity:

Visual over-responsivity, specifically, is characterized by hypersensitivity to visual stimuli, whether it be light, color or frequency of movement. Children with visual hypersensitivities may present with difficulty in visually attending to some stimuli, hyper-attentiveness to some stimuli, an increase of “coping strategies” when placed in a busy environment (i.e., chewing, moving their bodies, or hiding), or avoidance of light, natural or artificial.

The Fourth of July provides visual stimuli within each of these realms. Here are a few strategies to utilize this summer:

  • Prepare your child for the day by providing the child with information regarding what to expect. Have a conversation of what colors they will see and how bright it can be.
  • Create a game of “eye-spy” within the days activities: talk about what you may see throughout the day and have your child focus their gaze to search for specific items (i.e., how many flags are in the parade? How many blue fireworks do you see?).
  • Have sunglasses or dark lenses handy– they can be worn during the day or during the fireworks show.
  • Provide deep pressure and heavy work input to the body prior to and during visually stimulating activities.


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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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