Saturday, 02 July 2022

Autistic girl is terrified of noise made by fireworks

Autistic girl is terrified of noise made by fireworks

LILIA TAYLOR is so scared of noisy fireworks that her family is unable to attend displays.

The nine-year-old is on the autistic spectrum and finds it hard to cope with loud sounds.

Her mother Emma says her four-year-old son Gabriel also gets upset by the bangs.

Mrs Taylor, 43, who lives in Western Avenue, Henley, with the children and her husband Andy said: “We just avoid fireworks, which is a shame because we really enjoy looking at them.

“Lilia gets overwhelmed and scared by how loud they are so we don’t bother going. They seem to be an awful lot louder than they used to be.”

The family tried to attend a display in Checkendon when Lilia was younger but had to leave because she was so distressed.

Mrs Taylor said: “We’ve also had issues with hand dryers in public toilets and things like that. I used to have to rush her out of the room if a dryer came on.

“We get indoor fireworks and do something at home but she does miss out on a shared social experience.

“Gabriel doesn’t like loud noises either. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he was on the spectrum too. He has not been referred yet but the school has flagged it.

“Lilia was diagnosed when she was seven and we are seeing a lot of the same experiences with Gabriel.”

The family will also be keeping their cat Oscar indoors when there are fireworks.

Mrs Taylor said: “We’ve only had Oscar since January but we’ve had cats before and kept them in just in case they found it frightening. My mum’s cat has run away and disappeared overnight before.

“I really hate that people let fireworks off in their gardens. There are amazing firework displays these days and I don’t think there’s a need for people to buy explosives on the high street.

“Organised displays are only two or three nights and you know about them in advance.”

Lilia, who attends Stoke Row Primary School, says she can’t go to displays with her friends which leaves her feeling left out.

She said: “When I’m at school it’s the only thing they are talking about. They are all saying ‘are you going to bonfire night?’ and I have to say no.

“It makes me feel unhappy because when I first went I played with my friends before the fireworks started and it was really nice. When they started we ended up leaving.

“When I was younger I used to cry but now I just get scared. It looks really nice but the booms are too loud. The next day when you go back to school all they are talking about is fireworks.”

Lilia said the impact of the loud bangs had left her scared of all fireworks, including sparklers, and she is even startled when she is indoors and hears one going off.

She said: “When I hear them I jump and my whole body is shaking. I can’t enjoy the experience if I’m thinking, ‘when are they going to go off?’ There are just bangs at random times and it freaks me out. Seeing quiet ones would make me braver.”

Mrs Taylor said displays with quiet fireworks would make a huge difference to children like Lilia and allow them to enjoy fireworks with their friends.

“It’s such a small change to make,” she said. “I don’t think people think about the impact, especially on those with sensory issues.

“If you don’t have the experience you can’t understand how it affects them. There must be other children who want to go to displays but can’t.”

Amanda Stewart says her dog Ted-the-Shred is terrified of fireworks and has to be prescribed a special sedative paste by the vet to cope with them.

Ms Stewart, from Woodcote, says five-year-old Ted, who is a Jack Russell-Chihuahua cross, will crawl into small spaces in the house if he hears fireworks and last year even ran away to the next village.

Her other dog Zola, a chocolate Labrador, is not scared of fireworks but can still be aggravated by Ted’s behaviour.

Ms Stewart, who works in advertising and is a former competitive horserider, said: “We have a house with a few fields and stables on the outskirts of Woodcote with sheep, horses, dogs, cats, hens and the odd random peacock.

“When the firework ‘season’ begins we have to hastily take little Ted-the-Shred to visit his one of his least favourite places – the Henley vets. Poor Ted is still more terrified of fireworks than he is the vet!

“He is given a full check-up and we leave with our tube of sedative paste. The problem you have is that this stuff has to be administered 30 minutes before the fireworks begin blasting. I am not sure it’s terribly kind to have poor little Ted ‘stoned’ out of his mind for a month.

“Ted is not a large dog and, as I’ve learned, he can crawl into and under spaces in my house that I never knew I had! The Labrador is another matter. So as long as she has been fed she will be found sound asleep.

“That is until Ted-the-Shred, desperately searching for somewhere to hide, jumps on to her head. Then we’ve two upset and anxious dogs bombing around the house.”

Ms Stewart said that when Ted ran away, she spent the night searching before finding him “shaking and howling” in the middle of a nearby woods.

She said: “I can think of a least a 100 better things to do on any night than search for a tiny, scared dog on a wet, cold and miserable evening.

“This whole sorry and unfunny event was caused by yet another firework night midweek, not on the night usually associated with Guy Fawkes.

She added: “I urge everyone, for the sake of my sanity, to please support this idea of silent firework or else I may have to take myself off to the vets for a sedative!”

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