For sound sensitive kids, fireworks from Diwali was all about anxiety & stress
Diwali has gotten over and people are returning to their daily routines after almost a week long holiday. But for many children with sound sensitivity issues, last three days were not all about fun and celebrations. Children with autism and other developmental disabilities get anxious, irritated and stressed over loud firework sounds. It is high time that the society becomes more sensitive and works towards reducing using loud fireworks for any celebrations.
Diwali has just gotten over and after almost a week long holidays, everyone is getting back to their routines. When most people were enjoying the fireworks, seven year old Vihaan* (name has been changed) was going through the worst times. Vihaan, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, is sound sensitive. His family recollects those stressful last three days where they had to constantly reach out to him. There are thousands of kids and adults in our cities who are sound sensitive and bursting firecrackers during a beautiful festival like Diwali is not something they agree to. According to parents who have children who are sound sensitive, holiday and festive spirit gets deeply affected. According to them, people becoming more sensitive and stopping using of loud fireworks will make celebrations better and colorful for everyone.
For a child who is sound sensitive, noise of thunderstorms, alarms or even a balloon popping can cause anxiety and stress. Experts and parents point out that in due course of time, the child will get used to loud noises. But till then, it is truly testing times for both the child and parent.
Smrithy Rajesh's son Advait was diagnosed under autism spectrum disorder. Smrithy says that her family that lives in Bengaluru used to travel during Diwali season just in order to avoid noise of firecrackers.
Earlier, he used to close his ears. But in due course of time, he has gotten used to the loud noise. So for this Diwali, he was not too stressed out. I realised that we cannot change the society or people and ask them to stop using fireworks. That is definitely not going to happen. So Advait has to get used to the sounds sooner or later in life. The last couple of days, I have been spotting people carrying huge sacks of firecrackers and I was shocked. Bursting one or two is fine. It is high time we think about how these fireworks fuel in polluting our environment as well-Smrithy Rajesh.
Pratibha Bhatnagar from Jaipur who has a 27 year old son Akshay with autism says that society must be sensitised about needs and requirements of children with disabilities not just for Diwali, but round the year. "Akshay used to dread loud noises and firecrackers were the worst. Our kids have emotional and sensory issues. There are many parents who go through tough times due to bursting of firecrackers outside. I would suggest using cotton balls for their ears so that they do not feel disturbed", she says.
Like how parents point out, changing attitudes of people towards celebrating a festival is not going to change. Hence, they prefer to desensitize their children. But is that an ideal solution? For Affan and mom Zeba Hashmi, celebrating Diwali with fireworks is not fun at all. Affan, who has multiple disabilities, is not a fan of fireworks. "My son become anxious, irritated and stressed when he hears loud fireworks. I ensure that he stays indoors. But people have to be more sensitive towards using loud firecrackers during any festival, not just for a sound sensitive child but for a cleaner environment too. As it is, we are left with very less clean air to breathe. By bursting crackers, aren't we making it worse? The irony is that people have air purifiers at home and they pollute the environment outside", says Zeba.
Celebrating any festival is indeed all about fun and happiness, especially when you are with your loved ones. But it is also important to become sensitive to the needs of other people as well. Reports have shown how excessive fireworks can have a deep and negative impact on the environment, trees and animals. With festival season round the corner with the year coming to an end, celebrations without loud firecrackers can be fun too.