For many children, Halloween is an exciting time of year. Choosing a costume, trick or treating, parties with friends, celebrations at school, and other autumn activities can be a lot of fun. But for children with autism or other sensory processing concerns, it can be stressful. Here are some helpful tips to make Halloween fun for everyone:
- Prepare your child by talking with them about what to expect when trick-or-treating. Show them a movie or read them a book where other children are trick-or-treating. You might even try using different rooms in your house to practice knocking on the door and saying “trick or treat”. You could also do a practice run at the home of a family member or friend.
- Lots of children with sensory concerns are very sensitive to different clothing items. Halloween costumes can be itchy, tight, awkward, or otherwise just plain uncomfortable! Have your child try on their costume and spend a couple hours wearing it around the house so they can get used to it. This will allow you time to make adjustments if necessary, like cutting off tags or layering over a more comfortable shirt. Click here for more about sensory-friendly costumes and be sure to check out Pinterest for lots of great ideas.
- Help your child identify which candies they like, and let them know about some types that can turn your mouth a different color, get stuck in your teeth, or be very sour.
- Pumpkin carving is a great Halloween tradition. For many kids, the sensory experience of playing with “pumpkin guts” can be really fun! However, others might not enjoy that sensation. There are other ways to incorporate jack-o-lanterns besides carving – kids can decorate pumpkins with paint or stickers instead. Click here for some great ideas that don’t include carving.
- If your child is going trick-or-treating and has trouble communicating, you can make a card that says something like, “Hello, my name is ______ and I have autism. I might have trouble saying ‘trick or treat’ or ‘Happy Halloween’ but I am trying my best. Thank you!” Your child could hand it to the person answering the door or you could attach it to their treat bucket. Click here for a printable card or create a customized one.
- Don’t feel pressured to participate in trick-or-treating (or any other activities for that matter) if they don’t work for your child. It’s not for everyone, and that’s okay. You might have just as much fun staying in for movie night!
Venture will also be hosting its first Sensory-Friendly Not-So-Spooky Halloween Event on Thursday, October 26th from 4 – 6 pm at our Community Day Services Program, 670 Douglas Street, Uxbridge, Mass. The event is free and focused for children 12 and under with autism and other sensory concerns. Event volunteers will include clinicians and direct care staff with experience working with people with special needs. Activities will include practice trick or treating, scavenger hunt for prizes, activities, games, crafts, snacks, and access to our sensory room for a quiet space if needed. Please RSVP with number of people attending to firstname.lastname@example.org.