Halloween is just around the corner. While most children love Halloween, for those of us with children on the autism spectrum, Halloween can be a bit challenging.
From the uncomfortable costumes, loud noises, flashing lights, and spooky decor, Halloween can be a bit overwhelming for both you and your child.
With that being said, kids with ASD can enjoy Halloween as much as other kids. The key is to consider their individual needs and abilities, and any sensory issues that they may have. It’s perfectly fine to encourage your child to engage in certain activities, but make sure that you also take their wishes into consideration.
To make the night of Trick or Treating more enjoyable for your child, here are a few suggestions.
Be Mindful Of Your Child’s Sensory Needs
Keep sensory issues in mind when purchasing your child’s costume. Try to pick costumes that go easily over the top of kids clothes, and are not restrictive to avoid sensory issues.
If they are anything like my kid, and protest against the itchy fabric of a costume, you can try attaching wings over their regular clothes, or simply opting for a silly hat and fun printed t-shirt.
You should consider bringing along a change of regular clothes in case he or she can no longer tolerate their costume.
Help Your Child Deal With Feelings Of Anxiety
You may notice that your child is a bit anxious due to the changes in their schedule, or the additional activities taking place at home and school. Help alleviate their stresses with deep breathing exercises, sensory activities or their favorite calming toys.
Watch For Signs Of Sensory Overload
Watch for signs that your child is becoming overwhelmed and take steps to reduce it. If they become overstimulated, allow them to take a short break by removing them from the stressful situation. If a meltdown occurs, remain calm and do your best to help your child through it.
Practice Saying “Trick-or-Treat” With Your Child
If this is your child’s first year trick-or-treating, have them practice saying “trick-or-treat”. If your child has difficulty communicating verbally, you can use trick-or-treat cards, and have your child hand a card to the person passing out candy.
Take Your Child To Activities Where They Are Most Comfortable
If your child is uncomfortable visiting the home of a stranger, choose a different activity. If your church has a trunk-or-treat night or fall festival, they may be more comfortable attending that type of event.
Halloween night can be hectic, so be sure to follow safety measures. Trick-or-treat in groups if possible. Be sure you carry a flashlight and follow your planned route. If your child is prone to wandering, have them wear glow bracelets, or shoes that light up so they are easy to spot. For kids who are non-verbal, write your name and phone number on a piece of paper, and place it in their pocket.
Staying In For Halloween
If your child struggles with Halloween, so much so that they can’t really enjoy the holiday, simply stay in. My son is not big on Halloween, so we pick up his favorite food – pizza of course, along with a few snacks, and we spend the evening playing fun games.
Halloween doesn’t have to be a stressful time for children with ASD or other sensory issues. Just be sure to consider your child’s personal preferences,and individual needs throughout the Halloween season.
It’s okay to encourage them to participate in some activities but know your child’s limits. If they won’t enjoy a particular activity, it’s okay to skip it. The most important thing that you can do as a parent is be there for your child and have fun with them, even if it’s not the same way that others celebrate the holiday.