Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Guy Fawkes Night has been intensely difficult for Lyla, ever since she was a baby. An American friend who was staying over one year remarked on how it was like being stuck in the middle of a war-zone. So, lots of people can find fireworks and particularly Guy Fawkes Night overwhelming. However, for some autistic people, the sounds, smells and suddenness of fireworks can make them feel as though they themselves are imploding. Since she was a baby, my daughter Lyla has hidden under pillows screaming for the entire duration of the night and we've been completely helpless to calm her down. As her autism was not yet diagnosed, we just thought that she was just an especially sensitive person and did our best to protect her.
It is well known that many autistic people suffer from sensory sensitivities. This means that autistic people's senses can disrupt their lives significantly. For instance, Lyla understands language, but she cannot absorb long segments of speech. Lyla has said that the loud irregular bursts of fireworks make her feel like she is dying- her brain cannot process the noise in any way that isn't distressing to her.
What can we do? When she became verbal, we tried explaining the whole event to her, but she was just in sheer pain with the noise again. This year Lyla, will try a pair of Ear Defenders (from B&Q, for using with pnuematic drills!) and earplugs. She coped better at home on the 5th so this weekend we're taking her to the fireworks at the South Bank in the hope that for the first time in her life, she and her sister might be able to enjoy them.....Wish us Luck!
Picture by Sonewfangled