Halloween. It's probably the most fun day of the year for most folks. Many Halloween-lovin' parents can't wait to take their children on their first trick-or-treat adventure or to visit a fall festival. But for some kids with special needs like autism and other sensory sensitivities, All Hallow's Eve can be a nightmare, forcing many parents to for-go their plans.
It doesn't have to be this way. With a few adjustments sprinkled with a bit of creativity, parent of special needs children can make Halloween just as fun for their child and family as it is for others. Here's a few tips to help even the most sensitive child have a fun, carefree Halloween.
Celebrating Halloween with special needs children takes a bit more planning. Kids with sensory sensitivities and high anxiety are often comforted by being prepared and informed well ahead of time for big events like trick-or-treating, fall festivals, and Halloween parties. If you already know what events you plan for your family to participate in, take a little time to sit down and make a schedule, using pictures or words, depending on your child's communication abilities. Go over the schedule with your child over and over again until you are sure they know what to expect.
Most store-bought costumes are too itchy scratchy for sensory-sensitive children. This requires a bit of creativity on your part to come up with a costume that your child is comfortable in. Luckily, there are ton of easy costume ideas parents can create using their child's own clothing. Think: Making ears and tails out of felt and pinning them to your child's clothing turns your child into the animal of their choice. Once you've got your child's costume ready, have him or her try it on and wear around the house for a few hours. This will allow the child to both get comfortable with their costume and let you know if anything about the attire bothers them.
Your child may feel the need to get away from the crowd if the event you're at becomes too loud or congested. Check out the places you plan to be at on Halloween to seek out areas that can be used for quiet time or a quick get away from the crowds. If you decide to take your child trick-or-treating, stay away from the neighborhoods that heavily crowded on Halloween. Instead, take your child trick-or-treating at the homes of friends and relatives or to a quieter neighborhood with less children.
There are countless children's books out there depicting Halloween stories. Find books aimed toward teaching kids about trick-or-treating and the other festivities that go on during this day. During play time, dress up your child's dolls or action figures and play trick-or-treat.
Did you receive adequate support and information when you received your child's diagnosis?