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Happy Fourth of July! Today is the Fourth of July and most people will be having barbecues because they have the day off to celebrate America’s birthday. My family celebrates the holiday like most people, but in my family, it’s even more special because my sister’s birthday happens to fall on the fourth, and mine is the day after. I don’t usually celebrate my birthday with my entire family on the actual day because unless my birthday happens to fall on a weekend, most people have to work. Holidays are a good excuse to hang out with your family without the stress of work because who wouldn’t want a random Tuesday off to do nothing? It can also be very hard for some disabled people because a lot of the time, we are surrounded by triggers that able-bodied people are oblivious to and do not enjoy fireworks as much as an abled-bodied person would. I love to spend time with my family on holidays but the Fourth of July is probably my least favorite because there are too many crowds that are difficult to navigate as a disabled person. In this post, I am going to talk about a few things you should remember today so everyone can have a happy and safe holiday.
Some disabled people are triggered by loud noises and smells. Most able-bodied people find some enjoyment in fireworks, but for many disabled people, it’s loud and we don’t enjoy it as much because we are highly sensitive to loud noises and certain smells. As a disabled person, I don’t mind people setting off fireworks, but I will not go out of my way to watch them because I am more sensitive to loud noises and do not enjoy them as much. If there is one thing that disabled people want their able-bodied friends, it’s that big holidays such as the Fourth of July can be triggering for us because it can be loud and certain smells may bother us. Disabled people aren’t asking you to not do fireworks because we want you to have fun, but we do ask that you be kind and if you can, don’t unnecessarily be loud and obnoxious at all hours of the night because you never know who around you has a disability that quite literally is having a hard time coping with all the extra noise. I may not enjoy fireworks, but I can deal with them for a few hours on the fourth, and it’s only annoying to me when people do them all week long at all hours of the night.
Wear your sunscreen if you are sitting outside– If there is one thing I cannot stress enough, it’s how important it is to wear sunscreen if you are going to be outside for a majority of the day. In Florida, it’s hot pretty much all year round except in the winter when we get an occasional cold front but in the summer, it can be especially horrendous because it can get to be in the upper nineties with one-hundred percent humidity. If you are going to be outside, make sure you apply sunscreen because even if you live in an area where it doesn’t get as hot as it does in Florida, you can still burn, and it will happen faster than you think. If your Fourth of July celebration is primarily outdoors, wear sunscreen because although one small burn probably is no big deal, if you do that enough times, it can turn into something serious like cancer.
Hydrate yourself for migraine and headache prevention– When you are having fun in the sun, sometimes with your family, a lot of time you can get so preoccupied that you forget to stop and drink some water. If your celebration is outside, it’s important that you drink something every hour or so because the sun will dehydrate you. As a migraineur, I am pretty good at staying hydrated when I am outside because I know dehydration can trigger migraine attacks. If you don’t live with chronic migraine, it’s easy to skimp on your water intake because you don’t have pain to remind you, but you can still get a migraine even if you don’t have a diagnosed migraine or headache disorder. Stay hydrated because you still need to fuel your body properly, and there is nothing worse than having a fun time with family only to be ruined by a migraine attack that was preventable. You need to drink more water when it’s hot because you are sweating which cools you down but also means you are losing fluids and can get dehydrated quicker. Water can help prevent dehydration but if you live with a migraine or headache disorder water alone might not hydrate fast enough and you may want to drink something with electrolytes and limit your alcohol consumption because that will dehydrate you fast especially in the sun.
If you see someone struggling, offer assistance. I am a true advocate of helping disabled people who need help, but I am not a believer in forcing help on someone who doesn’t want it. Disabled individuals always struggle to some extent, but it can be even more difficult during holidays because able-bodied people often don’t think about all the barriers they create for disabled individuals. If you see someone struggling, offer assistance because although some people may not need your help, others will and will be very grateful that you offered to help them cross the street. People sometimes only think about themselves and are very rude during holidays, but I highly encourage you not to be that person and help those in need. Disabled people should be able to enjoy themselves just like able-bodied people, but it can be hard when others don’t think about us and make our lives more challenging than it has to be.
Holidays can be fun, but they can also be hard for disabled people because there is a lot of noise and smells that trigger us, and we cannot control them. If there is one thing that disabled people want their abled-bodied friends to know, it’s to be aware of your surroundings and offer assistance to anyone who seems like they might need help. If you see a toddler having a meltdown, it doesn’t always mean they are overly tired, but sometimes the noise of fireworks can be overwhelming for some disabilities. Be kind and don’t assume that disabled people not wanting to participate in fireworks are trying to draw attention to themselves because some people do not enjoy it as much and can’t wait until it’s over. If you are celebrating the Fourth of July, I hope you can enjoy yourself, but don’t forget about the disabled community because disabled people deserve to have fun too. However, it can be hard when you are dodging crowds, and no one is paying attention. What would you like people to remember on the Fourth of July?
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