Autism And Guy Fawkes Night

Remember, remember the 5th of November. A time of year lots of people look forward to. For many though it is a time of fear, anxiety and distress. More so since it has become a near month long celebration.

The thing that amazes me the most is how many people do not know the reason for Guy Fawkes night. They know it’s something to do with the gunpowder plot but that’s about it. It’s a bit like saying Christmas is to celebrate the birth of someone, but not knowing who that someone is.

What Is Guy Fawkes Night?

More commonly known as Bonfire night or Fireworks night it is celebrated on the 5th of November. On the 5th of November 1605, Guy Fawkes was arrested. He was found guarding explosives that Catholic plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. The Catholic plotters had intended to assassinate the Protestant King, James I and his parliament.

Celebrating the King surviving the gunpowder plot, people lit bonfires around London; and months later, the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure. For more information you can visit Wikipedia

Pets or People?

At this time of year, we often hear about the struggles animals face with the noise of fireworks. What we do not hear about is the struggle people go through too. Sensory sensitivities are a lesser-known part of autism. One of the sensitivities is sensitive hearing, also known as Hyperacusis,
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In the past, people have called for a ban on fireworks because of the effect they have on animals. I am an autistic person who struggles at this time of year, and I do not believe banning them is the answer. I have to admit, I think they can be pretty in the sky, and I like the smell of smoke that lingers in the air from the bonfires.

How To Improve the Situation

  • Teach people the reason why we celebrate on the 5 th of November.
  • Encourage people to celebrate on or as close to Guy Fawkes Night as possible.
  • If possible, inform your neighbours if you are planning on celebrating Guy Fawkes Night.
  • For rules on the use of fireworks to be easier to access and for people to be made more aware of them.
  • To go back to the days where fireworks were sold the week before Bonfire night and disappeared from shops the day after.
  • For the type of firework being purchased to be suitable for the space it is being used in.
  • Encourage people to attend their local display and support the local community.
  • For adaptations to be made to houses for autistic people to make this time of year more comfortable. As well as all year round.

The Effect on Autistic People

Autumn was a time of year I looked forward to. Getting cosy indoors as the cold, dark nights drew in. As well as dressing up for Halloween and going trick or treating. I even used to look forward to Guy Fawkes night and having family round. They would let fireworks off in the garden and I would watch from the window with my hands blocking my ears.

After celebrations welcoming in a new millennium, things started to change, and not for the better. This is when shops started selling fireworks from the second week in October, so Guy Fawkes night stopped being a one-night celebration.

Autumn is no longer one of my favourite times of year and I now dread this time of year. I love winter but dread New Year. Technology and headphones have become my best friends. I spend most of my time listening to music, drowning out the world around me.

What’s the solution?

Everyone should be able to enjoy Guy Fawkes celebrations, which is why I think communicating with each other, and where possible compromising to try and make everyone happy. It would be nice to make the world a more autism friendly place and by taking small steps with such events like Guy Fawkes night, I think it will be a positive step forward to reaching our goal.

By Nicola