It’s that time of the year again when Halloween is just around the corner. This can be a such an exciting time for kids where they can dress up and go trick or treating, but for some kids with autism this can be a night that is overwhelming and a lot to take in. There are so many ways to help celebrate this fun holiday without the stressors that can come with it.
We have all heard of the the viral teal pumpkins and candy buckets. For those who haven’t, it signifies a nut free treat or for the kiddo using the bucket that they have a nut allergy. Now have you heard of the blue Halloween buckets for trick-or-treaters? This one can come in handy, it lets others know that the individual with the blue bucket has an autism diagnosis. Another awesome option alongside or instead of the blue bucket to use are these trick-or-treat card cutouts from https://nationalautismassociation.org. You or your child can hand these out to others if needed to let them know your child has autism and to say thank you for the treat.
Besides the actual trick-or- treating, there is also the costume. Costumes are not a necessary part of Halloween so if your kiddo doesn’t want to get dressed up that is 100% fine. Instead, maybe you can find them a Halloween spirited shirt. To me Halloween is about the experience all together and the less stress free the more fun it will be for all. Now if your kid is into the costume here are some helpful tips from autismspeaks.org to consider when picking.
- Consider any and all sensory concerns. You want your child to be comfortable so pay attention to any different smells or textures the costume may have.
- Make sure your child has tried on the outfit a few times before Halloween day. This way you can make sure they will be ok with it on the actual day.
- Think about getting a costume a size bigger so your child can wear other clothes underneath. For one if they want to take it off, they are already dressed. Second it may help with some sensory concerns with the costume they may have.
- Let your child have a say in the costume. If they are still too young for that, think about their interests when picking.
Another thing to be mindful of on Halloween are the different noises and looks of places and people. This can cause a sensory overload and can be scary for many children, especially children with an ASD diagnosis. Try and prepare your child the best you can with social stories and during the experience remind them that it is not real and that it is just a way some people like to celebrate. You can also bring along noise cancelling headphones and favorite toy to help calm your child.
If the whole Halloween experience is a bit too much you can also find different Halloween activities to do instead of trick-or-treating. One of my favorites is a Halloween scavenger hunt/bingo. This can be done during the day, night, or even on a different day than Halloween. All you need is to make a list or picture page of things you can find on different houses or if you are doing the night of Halloween, you can look for different costumes to find. (Hint: type into your search engine trick-or-treat bingo and you can find a bunch of premade cards ready to play). Take a drive or walk around your neighborhood and when you find an item, say a pumpkin or a ghost on a yard you check it off the list. When your kiddo gets bingo or finds 3 objects you can have a special treat you know they will enjoy ready to give them. This game is so easy and fun and can be quickly stopped whenever you need to.
Keep in mind your child’s limits when planning Halloween adventures with you and family. As always have fun and be safe. Happy Halloween!