Sensory Strategies for Mardi Gras

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By Emily Wilton, LOTR

Living in southern Louisiana, Mardi Gras is a basic part of life.



As small children, we perch excitedly on ladders shouting, “Throw me something mister!” hoping to catch pretty beads or a stuffed animal. We learn how to wait for hours on the parade route and enjoy dancing as the marching bands pass.

But what if touching the material of a stuffed animal or hearing the loud drums and horns made you feel overwhelmed or scared? For some children with sensory processing difficulties, this is a reality.

Here are some sensory suggestions for our little friends who may be a bit more hesitant to let the good times roll during Mardi Gras season.



  • Stand further back from the parade route to be far enough away from the loud noises of the bands and prevent getting hit by throws.
  • Have other family members or friends get to the route early to claim your spot. Wait until right before the parade rolls to show up with your child.
  • Make a visual schedule with the sequence of events for the day and talk to your child about what sounds, sights and other sensory input they may experience.
  • Limit the number of parades you attend. Spending an entire day on the parade route may be too overstimulating.
  • Bring noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs for your child to wear during the parade.
  • Don’t force a child to sit on top of the ladder. Let them stand on something closer to the ground or occasionally be held to view some of the floats.
  • Bring a bag to put beads and other trinkets in so they don’t have to be worn or held.
  • Come prepared with other activities to occupy your child when there are lulls in the parade, like fidgets, iPads or coloring books.
  • Dress in layers and prepare for rain. You never know what the weather could bring!
  • Bring sunglasses and a hat for daytime parades.
  • Know where a nearby restroom or other quiet place is in case your child needs some down time from the excitement.

Remember, it’s always best to have a backup plan ready in case the situation become too overwhelming for your child.

When your child’s circumstances propel you into the world of medical sub-specialties, it can be overwhelming. Ochsner’s Pediatric Therapy & Wellness team is here to lend expert, compassionate support, supply answers and develop a plan for progress to give your child the best opportunity to grow and develop.