Tips for Enjoying Mardi Gras for People with Sensory Difficulties
Living in southern Louisiana, Mardi Gras is a basic part of life.
As small children, we perch excitedly on ladders shouting, “Throw me something mister!” hoping to catch pretty beads or a stuffed animal. We learn how to wait for hours on the parade route and enjoy dancing as the marching bands pass.
But what if touching the material of a stuffed animal or hearing the loud drums and horns made you feel overwhelmed or scared? For some children with sensory processing difficulties, this is a reality.
Here are some sensory suggestions for our little friends who may be a bit more hesitant to let the good times roll during Mardi Gras season.
- Stand further back from the parade route to be far enough away from the loud noises of the bands and prevent getting hit by throws.
- Have other family members or friends get to the route early to claim your spot. Wait until right before the parade rolls to show up with your child.
- Make a visual schedule with the sequence of events for the day and talk to your child about what sounds, sights and other sensory input they may experience.
- Limit the number of parades you attend. Spending an entire day on the parade route may be too overstimulating.
- Bring noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs for your child to wear during the parade.
- Don’t force a child to sit on top of the ladder. Let them stand on something closer to the ground or occasionally be held to view some of the floats.
- Bring a bag to put beads and other trinkets in so they don’t have to be worn or held.
- Come prepared with other activities to occupy your child when there are lulls in the parade, like fidgets, iPads or coloring books.
- Dress in layers and prepare for rain. You never know what the weather could bring!
- Bring sunglasses and a hat for daytime parades.
- Know where a nearby restroom or other quiet place is in case your child needs some down time from the excitement.
Remember, it's always best to have a backup plan ready in case the situation become too overwhelming for your child.
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