Cicadas in Chicago IL
How people with autism, sensory sensitivities are prepping for cicadas

Seasons come and go, bringing with them various changes in nature. One such change that is eagerly anticipated by many is the emergence of cicadas every spring. During spring, this house’s fly-looking insects make their presence known with loud buzzing noises that fill the air.  While this may bring excitement to some, it can also trigger feelings of being overwhelmed or scared in individuals with conditions like autism who thrive on consistency and predictability in their surroundings.

This is why teachers and staff work hard to prepare students for the upcoming emergence of cicadas at Keshet School, a specialized institution for students with disabilities.

Anxiety in Autistic Children

About 40% of individuals with autism also struggle with anxiety, making it even more crucial for them to have the necessary resources, education, and coping tools in place during this season.

For example, students at Keshet were taught about the buzzing noise cicadas make and even shown models of bugs, larvae, and eggs to help them better understand and prepare for their presence.

As for coping mechanisms, students ranging from 12 to 15 years old were given various options, such as taking breaks from the noise by going inside, using headphones, or chewing on a toy to help distract themselves. These strategies are scientifically proven to help individuals with autism manage their anxiety and sensory overload.

Resources and support for families

Among the key resources and support for families, Jori Erlander, a social worker at Keshet, also emphasizes the importance of video as a pre-teaching tool to prepare children for what to expect. By parents also taking  the initiative to educate their children through videos, photos and other resources, they can help ease their child’s anxiety and fears about the emergence of cicadas.

Failures to recognize this can result in unexpected outbursts or meltdowns, as seen with Adam and Rachel Florek, siblings with autism who struggle with the sudden influx of cicadas according to their mom Laura.

Laura expresses her apprehension and hopes for a smoother transition, but acknowledges the uncertainty of how her children will react to this new experience since her children love spending time outdoors and with their peers.

Despite her concerns, Laura recognizes the potential for growth and learning for her children as they navigate through this unknown situation.

Support and guidance

Discovering that one is on the autism spectrum, for those who were not previously diagnosed, can be a life-changing moment. This realization often brings about transformations in their lives, opening up avenues for connection and personal development. Illinois Autism Center is dedicated to aiding individuals on this journey by offering support and guidance.

Our organization is recognized for its top-quality ABA therapy and team of expert professionals, making us a trusted choice for those seeking help.