Preparing for Halloween

October 6, 2015

The Halloween traditions of dressing up, trick-or-treating and carving the family pumpkin have long been favorites of children everywhere.   Of course, who doesn’t like candy?  While Halloween can be a lot of fun for most kids, children with autism spectrum disorders may struggle with the sounds. sights and sensory overload that the holiday can bring.  How can we prepare our children for the event so that they may enjoy the evening? Here are a few tips. . .

  1. The Costume – The biggest part of Halloween is finding the perfect costume to wear.  Spend some time talking with your child about what they would like and how the costume would work.  For many children with sensory issues wearing make up or funny feeling clothes can be enough to set off a meltdown.  Choose an outfit carefully.  Think about ways to alter clothes that he/she are already comfortable wearing.  Think simple.  Wear the outfit several times before the big night to be sure there are no itchy or scratchy parts.
  2. Practice – Ask neighbors or friends to allow your child to practice a few nights before.  This may include a script of what to say (Trick or treat) and ringing the doorbell.  If your child is too shy or non verbal think signs.  Create a visual story of what Halloween may be like for your child, with some pictures or drawings. This will help your child prepare for the day’s activities. If your child has dietary restrictions ask neighbors to use snacks that you can delivery to them in advance.
  3. Make a Plan – Make a map of the area that you plan to visit so your child knows in advance how many houses and how long they will be out trick or treating.  Incorporate breaks at certain spots.  If your child needs sound dampening headphones you may want to see if it can become part of the costume.  Partner with a good friend to go to each house.
  4. Discuss Safety – Every parent should talk about safety measures such as crossing roads, using flashlights and only going to homes with an outside light on.  Do not eat any candy until returning home.  No running and use a flashlight or glow necklace to be easily seen by cars.

Halloween doesn’t need to be stressful.  A little advanced preparation will calm any nerves and help make the night enjoyable for all!  Happy Halloween!