A Sensory Friendly Fourth of July | Facebook Live Video

The 4th of July is a fun holiday and takes some preparation! Watch one of our expert Occupational Therapists who covered red flags and shared tips on how to ensure your child has a sensory friendly 4th of July.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!


A Sensory Friendly Fourth of July

The Fourth of July can be an exciting and eventful time for most children, but for a child with sensorySensory Friendly processing difficulties, it can become overwhelming. Children with hypersensitivities to visual and auditory input may have a difficult time staying regulated and engaging in the activities that this holiday has to offer.

Here are some strategies for you and your child to have a sensory friendly holiday:

  1. Although fireworks can be a fun event for your family to attend, many children find the excess noise to be overwhelming. One strategy that might be helpful is to utilize noise-canceling headphones. If these are unavailable to you any type of ear buds you may have lying around the house could also help to muffle the sounds of fireworks. The bright flashing lights of fireworks can also be discomforting to a child with visual hypersensitivities. Bring along some shaded glasses to help block out some of that excess light.
  2. Parades may also be a very overwhelming activity for your child to engage in. The large crowds, loud music and bright colors can all be very stimulating and your child may have difficulties handling this overstimulation. One strategy that you could implement would be to avoid the crowd and watch from afar. Look around for a nearby building that you could watch from a window or find a designated area with fewer people.
  3. For a sensory seeking child you may want to create some sensory bins or activities for your child to engage in to help them feel more regulated. Mix red and blue paint into shaving cream (or uncooked colored rice or noodles to avoid the mess) and hide 4th of July themed items for your child to find. Your child may also need to engage in some heavy work activities before going to fireworks, parade, etc. so that he/she is regulated before these events. Some heavy work activities may include animal walks, carrying, pulling or lifting heavier objects, climbing, or crashing into pillows/cushions.
  4. Bring familiar items with you to these events to provide your child the comfort of home. Bring a favorite blanket or toy and let your child utilize it at times when they are feeling overwhelmed.
  5. Also remember to set expectations for your child. Let them know what the plan is for the day so they are more prepared for what they may encounter. Let them help you in planning out what to do for the day. This will make them feel more comfortable in these settings and can also give them the feeling that they have a choice. Having a plan will reduce anxiety for a child who is rigid or struggles with change. Visual schedules can also help to prompt your child as to what activities you have planned for the day. You can bring this along with you and take it out while transitioning from one activity to the next as a reminder.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

For additional information, watch our Facebook recording of A Sensory Friendly Fourth of July:


Patriotic cake

Cooking With Kids: 4th of July Desserts




Fireworks, barbeques, getting together with friends and family…a perfect 4th of July holiday!  The only thing that makes it better is to have the kids help make the dessert!  Here are some fun and easy recipes to celebrate the holiday:

1)    Patriotic Poke Cake


  • 18.25 oz. white, yellow or vanilla cake mix, plus ingredients to make the cake
  • 14.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • red and blue food coloring
  • frosting (can use vanilla, cream cheese, or buttercream)
  • raspberries and blueberries for garnish


  1. Prepare cake according to package directions. Let cake cool in the baking dish for 10 minutes, while you prepare the filling.
  2. Divide the coconut milk in half. Tint half with red food coloring and half with blue food coloring.
  3. With cake still in the baking dish, use a fork to poke holes in the warm cake at 1/2-inch intervals on one third of the cake. Carefully spoon some of the blue coconut milk over the holes, pausing to let the colored milk seep in. Don’t douse the cake. You just want enough milk to add color. You should have at least half of the blue coconut milk left.
  4. Now poke holes with a fork in the middle third of the cake, and spoon the red coconut milk into those holes. Again, pause to let the colored milk seep in. Again, you should have some red milk left over. Finally, poke holes in the last third of the cake and spoon some of the remaining blue milk into those holes. Discard remaining coconut milk.
  5. Let cake sit at room temperature 10-15 minutes, then refrigerate at least 2 hours.
    Loosen the edges of the poke cake with a spatula. Be careful – the cake may be sticky from the coconut milk. Invert the cake onto a serving platter.
  6. Frost cake with your favorite frosting. Garnish with raspberries and blueberries.

Patriotic cake2)    American Flag Cheesecake Bars

(requires overnight refrigeration)



  • Mixer or hand mixer
  • 9 x 13 baking dish
  • Foil
  • Large foil roasting pan
  • Cutting board
  • Ziplock bag (sandwich size)



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted


  • 3 8-oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 80 fresh ripe blueberries (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup seedless raspberry jelly



1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

2. Make crust: Using a mixer (or hand mixer), combine flour, brown sugar and salt, and process until well combined. Add butter and pulse just until mixture begins to come together; it should not form a ball.

3. Press mixture evenly over bottom of baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until set. Let cool.

4. Make filling: With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Reduce speed to medium-low and add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined. Beat in lemon juice, vanilla and salt.

5. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over crust. Tap pan on countertop 3 or 4 times to burst air bubbles in filling. Place pan in a large roasting pan and put in oven. Pour hot tap water into roasting pan until it comes up about an inch around baking pan.

6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until filling is just set. Cool completely on a wire rack, then cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

7. Use foil overhang to lift cheesecake out of pan and onto cutting board. Heat a large sharp knife under hot water; dry knife. Trim off edges of cheesecake. Carefully cut into 16 bars, rinsing knife under hot water and drying thoroughly between each cut.

8. Transfer bars to a serving platter. Decorate each bar with 5 blueberries in upper left corner to resemble stars on the American flag. Place jelly in a ziplock bag, seal bag and snip off about 1/6 inch at one bottom corner. Pipe jelly in thin lines on each bar to resemble stripes on flag.

3)    4th of July Rice Krispie Treats


  • 6 cups Rice Krispies Cereal
  • 1 package marshmallows
  • 3 TBSP margarine or butter
  • Food coloring–red and blue
  • 3 medium to large bowls
  • 9 x 13 baking dish (well greased)
  • Wax paper


  1. Gather your supplies and divide the Rice Krispies and marshmallows into three groups for the three layers (2 cups Rice Krispies and about 2 cups marshmallows for each group).
  1. Melt margarine/butter and marshmallows.  You can use either the stovetop or microwave (make sure you use microwave safe bowls).  For each group, use about 1 TBSP butter and 1/3 of marshmallow package.
  1. Once melted, stir well and add the food coloring.  (You can add as much as you would like to get the desired shade of blue and red.)
  1. Add the 2 cups of Rice Krispies to each group and stir well.
  1. By color, press into well-greased 9×13 baking dish.  Start with blue, then white (which is just regular and requires no food coloring) and then red. Pat down all layers really well using wax paper.
  1. Let set for a bit, then cut, serve and enjoy!


S'mores4)    Mini S’mores


  • 4 graham cracker squares
  • 16 tiny marshmallows
  • 1 ½ ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon red, white and blue nonpareils or sprinkles


  1. Preheat broiler. Using a serrated knife, cut each graham cracker square into 4 and 1¼ -inch squares.
  1. Place half of the squares on a baking sheet and top each with 2 tiny marshmallows.
  1. Broil 3 inches from the heat for just a few seconds until the marshmallows start to brown. Remove and quickly top with remaining graham cracker squares.
  1. Melt chocolate:  place chopped chocolate in a small saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until melted.
  1. Dip in melted chocolate, place on a plate or waxed paper, and sprinkle with red, white, and blue nonpareils.
  1. Let stand until chocolate sets.  Eat and enjoy!