Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and absolute hell for anyone with audio sensitivity.
This is version three of this blog. I’ve been posting slightly edited variants annually for four years now (except 2020). However, I’ve altered the title slightly. It’s been brought to my attention that it was a bit insensitive and didn’t necessarily deliver the intended message.
So what is this post about? Well, as Guy Fawke’s night approaches people often discuss how traumatic fireworks are for their pets and animals. This has been an even larger conversation this year after the devastating news that Hope the zebra passed away after being terrified by a local display near her zoo in Bristol. However, fireworks aren’t just traumatic for those with four legs and it’s time we start discussing the adverse effect that fireworks have on humans too.
Fireworks from an autistic perspective
One of the main symptoms of Autism is sensory differences, meaning one’s senses are either increased or decreased in intensity. Many people, like myself, have increased audio recognition, meaning loud sounds are very loud. There are around 700,000 people in the UK with autism so why are we being ignored?
Unlike when I last posted this blog two years ago, it does seem that autistic people are finally receiving some recognition in regards to the issues the fireworks cause. However, there’s still not been any actual changes made. For someone with sound and visual sensitivity, a fireworks display is almost impossible for me to cope with, even at the age of 26.
To emphasise this, I’m going to give you some context. At the start of this week, I did an interview during which I was asked what environments I feel comfortable in. My response was, that the only place I’m totally comfortable in is my room as I have the ability to fully regulate what sensory input I receive. However, just one night later I was hearing loud bangs through my very efficient noise-cancelling headphones. It just isn’t fair.
Why does this happen anyway?
Unfortunately for people like me, Guy Fawke’s night coincides with the Hindu Festival of Diwali. And as much as I respect religious tradition this means more often than not fireworks are being blown up for over a week. This lengthens the pain that people with autism have to go through. I also find the fact that people are celebrating Guy Fawke’s demise slightly ironic. I mean, it essentially commemorates the survival of the British government but who wants to currently celebrate that anyway? (A joke that becomes more relevant every time I repost this!)
By no means do I feel that firework shows should be banned. But why do they need to be so loud? How many zebras, dogs, horses and humans need to suffer before people finally make a change. Silent fireworks exist. They’re available for purchase from Asda, Lidl, Aldi, Tescos and Morrisons!
Of course, I actually don’t believe individuals should be able to purchase fireworks at all. Limiting displays to organised events would limit the sporadic nature of the situation giving people with autism a chance to actually prepare. And would consequently reduce accidents as well.
So what do I want you to take away from this blog? Well, next time you debate whether or not to do a firework party, consider how that may affect your neighbours, friends and family. Ask yourself, is it really worth distressing so many people just for a few seconds of pretty sparks? If the answer is no, you can either buy silent fireworks or simply go to your local display rather than planning your own. And please share this blog. Not enough people are talking about how difficult these events are for autistic people even when they don’t attend.
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