Halloween is an exciting holiday and a chance to be anyone you want to be whether that be Iron Man, PJ Mask, or The Little Mermaid, but may offer challenges for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Taking a moment to prepare and plan can help you stay stress-free. Whether you are a seasoned Autism parent or this is your child's first Halloween these tips may help your child enjoy this holiday.
If your child cannot have candy or a picky eater, ask your neighbors to have a suitable alternative or go trick or treating to family and friends homes so you can have more control over what is given to your child.
Let your child have a choice in their costume. This will help to ensure that they are comfortable in their outfit and are willing to wear it throughout the night. Have your child try on several costumes before Halloween and watch how they react to the clothing. Are they trying to get it off? Are they tugging at the neckline? If so, maybe its best to consider a different option. Remember, you can go trick or treating in pajamas if they are more comfortable!
Safety is a concern on Halloween for all children, but especially for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Before the big night, have a plan of where you are going to go. You can even go trick-or-treating at friends and family members' houses so your child sees familiar faces.
4. Be flexible!
The ultimate goal is to have a fun night with your child. Even if trick-or-treating doesn't go as you planned and costumes only last a short period of time.
If trick-or-treating isn't for you, try staying home and passing out candy with your child! They may enjoy being within their own environment and looking at all the costumes. You can also watch a Halloween movie or do a fun sensory craft.
Updated: Jul 1
Independence Day can be overwhelming for those with sensory sensitivities, try these tips to make it a little easier
PREPARE YOUR CHILD: Talk about where you are going and what is going to happen. Try showing videos of firework displays!
CREATE A SAFE SPACE: Create an area that is just for your child. Bring their favorite snacks, toys, blanket or chair. Having a designated space can help your child feel more comfortable.
BRING HEADPHONES: Parties and fireworks can be very loud and overwhelming. Consider bringing noise-cancelling headphones to help dampen the sound.
DISTANCE YOURSELF: Large crowds can be over stimulating for your child. Give yourself enough space to socially distance and de-stress. You can also try sitting a distance away from the firework display, somewhere you can enjoy the beautiful visuals but limit the booming noise.
USE FLAGS INSTEAD OF SPARKLERS: Sparklers may seem harmless, but every year they cause nearly half of firework injuries. Instead of sparklers, try waving flags! You can also try a bubble machine or a disco/strobe light as a alternative to firework explosions.
ASK FOR A BREAK: Make sure your child knows how to ask for a break when they need one. If your child is verbal, remind them to ask when necessary. Your child may also benefit from a visual aid. Create your own communication cards like the one below for your child to hand to you when they need a break.
For a more specific plan, talk to your child's BCBA