Tips for Making Halloween Autism and Sensory-Friendly
Most all children love to celebrate Halloween, and we want our EAP kids to feel comfortable enjoying the holiday too! Celebrating Halloween can create a few challenges for kiddos prone to sensory-overload – so we’re sharing a few tips to help your family do a little preparation planning for the spookiest day of the year!
TIP #1: Costume Planning
Many traditional store-bought Halloween costumes are uncomfortable, scratchy, hang strangely or awkwardly, have lots of tags, or use slimy, oozy face paint – which can be less than ideal for your child.
Here are some possible solutions:
- Make your own! Find a base article of clothing your child is comfortable with fabric-wise and get creative from there. This also allows you to incorporate any compression wear your child might need, and to do tailoring/cutting that might be tricky to do with a store-bought costume set. Bonus: they can pick their favorite colors!
- Practice wearing it at home. Have your child wear their costume around the house a few times before Halloween, to get them used to the feel of it, and to see if anything is amiss or needs altering.
Tip #2: Practice Trick-or-Treating Etiquette & Plan Your Route
When it comes to the actual act of “Trick-or-Treating,” practicing beforehand is key. It’s not part of the everyday routine, so naturally, that may create some discomfort. There are steps to work through with your child, to make it less so.
Here are some ideas:
- Create a visual map of where you will be going with your child, and go over it with them, so they know what to expect, and exactly what the route will look like.
- Start with staying your own familiar neighborhood. If possible, you can plan your trick-or-treat route to align with part of your child’s normal routine – i.e., stopping at neighbor’s houses they’ve already met, or sticking to the houses on the way to their bus stop, usual park, etc.
- At home, practice role-play of giving & receiving candy. Practice when to say “trick-or-treat” and “thank you” (if your child is verbal and can do so) and how to grab candy and hold the bag.
- Practice appropriate emotional release, in response to stimuli. There can be a lot of creepy, loud, or startling decorations out there. Practice what is appropriate to say if your child gets spooked, uncomfortable or overwhelmed. If your child is nonverbal, make sure to watch their physical responses carefully.
TIP #3: Use the Holiday as an Opportunity to Educate Others
Prepare and practice as you might, there may still be the opportunity for things not to go according to plan. Maybe your child gets shy and doesn’t want to say “trick-or-treat,” ends up having trouble with their costume, or the noise in the neighborhood is too loud. In any case, use this as a time to educate others in the neighborhood!
- Carry “autism education” cards with you to hand out. These can say something along the lines of: “Hi, my name is _____ and I have autism. I’m trying my very best to say ‘trick-or-treat’ and ‘thank you,’ but this all can be overwhelming for me. Thank you for your patience, and Happy Halloween!”
- Make your own, or find plenty of templates on Pinterest, or on this parent blog.
From all of us at EAP, we wish you happy planning for a safe and happy Halloween!