Halloween with all its bright lights, itchy costumes, and spooky sights and sounds can sometimes be overwhelming for autistic children. Knowing how to navigate all these new things can be a scary time for parents, too. Having some tools in your trick-or-treat bag can make Halloween season a little bit sweeter.
Here are some tips to make Halloween fun for everyone:
1. Talk to your child about Halloween. Explain the different sounds they may hear, sights they may see, and that costumes and decorations are fun, not real. Show pictures and videos to help them understand all the new and different things.
2. Find costumes that are comfortable. Some fabrics can be uncomfortable for some children; different textures and smells can be aversive for some kids. Be flexible when helping your child choose what to wear. Let them pick what makes them happy, sometimes a Halloween themed t-shirt or a shirt with their favorite character makes a great option. It may be best to avoid face make up and masks. If they do choose a costume, allow them to put it on a few times and practice walking around in it prior to Halloween night.
3. Practice. New and different routines can be confusing and upsetting to some children. Practice the route you will take to trick or treat. Practice knocking on doors at home or other family or friends’ homes, saying hello and then leaving; visiting a house and not staying might be confusing at first. Practice saying, “trick or treat” and collecting items in bags. Be flexible if your child doesn’t want to do any or all the steps. There are lots of fun things you can do at home to celebrate.
4. Look for sensory-friendly events. The community often offers “not-so-scary” events or trunk or treats nights that may be more up your kid’s alley. This can be a great way to enjoy the holiday and a way to introduce your child to all things Halloween.
5. Keep an open mind. There are no rules on how to enjoy Halloween except that it is supposed to be fun. Being prepared and flexible will make for a much better night for everyone.
By Kristen Colyer, BCBA, Director of Children’s Services
From all of us at the Infinity Center, Happy Halloween!