Stop Banging on About Dogs

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and absolute hell for anyone with audio sensitivity.

This is a slightly edited version of a blog I posted this time last year. You see, in the week leading up to Guy Fawke’s night lots of people complain about how traumatic it is for their four legged friends. This year the conversation appeared to be triggered slightly earlier when Sainsbury’s made the bold move to stop selling Fireworks and the RSPCA released a new report on the effect it has on dogs. Yet not a single news organisation has discussed the effect that fireworks can have on humans.

One of the main symptoms of Autism (ASD) 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 UK with ASD, and many more who are undiagnosed, so why are we being ignored?

The only report I could find on this was from CBBC’s Newsround (It’s quite a good report which you can see here), yet as the National Autistic Society rightly states on their facts page, autistic children grow up. For 24 years I have suffered through and endured fireworks night, the sound alone is almost impossible to process but when you add in the social aspects of parties and the issue of excessive touch stimulation as the result of being in a crowd on a cold November night, it very quickly becomes impossible to cope with.

What makes this situation worse is the fact that it isn’t just one night. 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 simply lengthening the pain that people with ASD have to go through. On top of this, just like Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s Eve this is another annual event that in recent years has drastically expanded in capacity due to commercialism. Half the people celebrating Guy Fawke’s demise probably don’t even know what the event is all about, they’re just joining in and using it as an excuse to have a party. I mean, it essentially commemorates the survival of the British government but who wants to currently celebrate that anyway? (A joke included in last year’s post and is even more relevant now!)

By no means do I feel that firework shows should be banned, they do look beautiful after all, I just feel there must be a quieter way of doing it. Perhaps coming up with a system that means only organisations can purchase them for communal events, rather than individuals, would limit the sporadic nature of the situation giving people with ASD a chance to actually prepare rather than spending two whole weeks locked up inside with headphones on. This sort of system wouldn’t block the use of fireworks as a means of celebrating light or a bloke who tried to destroy parliament, it would simply make it more manageable as a whole, consequently reducing accidents as well.

Last year I ended this blog in a more general manner, looking at the overall social climax that takes place during these last few months of the year. That in itself could be an entire thesis let alone just a blog. But I want to end this one by re-emphasising the initial point. Fireworks don’t just distress dogs, they make life absolute hell for humans too. So stop moping over your howling four legged friend and share this information, none of the newspapers want to after all!

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