Image: (from andrews.af.mil) A firing squad performs the three volley salute at some unknown location. The salute is a ceremonial act performed at military and police funerals. It is also performed in memory of fallen soldiers during Memorial Day Events. During the salute, three blanks are fired in rapid succession. It's not a popular ceremony in our family because my son is sensitive to sound and/or has anxiety at the thought of shots being fired.
C1 (my ten year old with autism): "Lock Down my Ears! Lock Down my Ears!"
He was rocking back and forth a little, a sign of anxiety. We were at the ceremony that followed the Memorial Day parade in the quaint downtown of our small city. Watching the parade went smoothly and I felt like a typical American Family. (The typical feeling changed as soon as the ceremony started.)
Me: (thinking to myself): What?
C1: "Lock down My ears!"
Me: (thinking to myself again): Oh, he wants me to put my hands over his hands as he covers his ears.
So I handed my small flag (that was given out to parade goers by members of the VFW auxiliary), and my sunglasses to my husband and "locked down" my child's ears. It didn't help much. The anxiety heightened to the point it was becoming noticeable to the crowd around us, so we had to go on to our next planned activity. A picnic was next on our daily agenda. That part didn't go so well because ceremony moved on to the bridge parallel to our picnic spot where they spoke for several minutes before the squad performed another salute.
The lock down demand started as soon as my son saw all the people on the bridge. While my husband and other son, C2, ate chicken salad, potato salad, etc., I had my hands on C1's hands, which were over his ears, for ten minutes before all the speakers had their turn and the guns finally went off. This time it was evident the anxiety was worse than the actual event. I'm sure the light popping sound was a bit louder to him than it was to me, but I suspect that noise was tolerable. I'm thinking he just let his anxiety get the better of him.
Next Year: My son does love everything American. He is quite the little patriot as you can see in this photo from last year. We don't want to avoid our annual trip downtown to see the Memorial Day parade because C1 has difficulty with some of the traditions. Instead I will do my best (to remember to) accommodate his needs. I plan on (if I remember a year from now) having a social story about the three volley salute on hand. I'm also hoping to remember to bring ear plugs or head phones!