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Halloween can be overwhelming for a child with special needs who has SPD, more commonly known as Sensory Processing Disorder.
A holiday that can be filled with ghouls and goblins, scary noises, sounds and spooky decorations can do more than just stir up a temporary fright.
Costumes adding to the challenge with children who cannot handle hats, Halloween make-up or textured outfits can cause a child to want to scream, cry, itch, gag and in even extreme cases, vomit.
It’s a holiday celebration that can be complicated for the child with SPD. Yet children with SPD sometimes still very much ache to participate, they just need avenues to pursue in order to help them do so.
Here are four tips on how to help your child with SPD through the Halloween season:
This could be as simple as a Superhero or Disney themed set of pajamas. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box for physical comfort and practicality.
Sometimes a simple sweatsuit set with a cape can work. In extreme SPD cases, trick-or-treating is also fine without a costume.
Maybe even a simple temporary tattoo on their hand is all your child can handle or needs. There is no rule that says costumes are mandatory to participate in Halloween activities.
Try to remove the fear from the fun. Try to find fall activities that don’t have the potential to scare, but offer a light autumn feel instead.
Work on making good memory associations with the season, perhaps a warm cup of apple cider stirred with a cinnamon stick on a crisp fall day, craving a happy pumpkin or stenciling a sweet design, or sit on a bench, feel the breeze and watch leaves fall from the trees. Find soothing parts to the season that your child enjoys.
While the scents of pumpkin spice candles and cinnamon and nutmeg speak tall tell signs of fall and Halloween on the horizon, smells can be particularly bothersome for the child with SPD.
Sometimes trading out the scented candles for pre-lit colored and patterned is easier to have in your home with a child with sensitivities. Excessive bold colors can also be overwhelming. Instead of coating your house in head to toe shades of orange, seek easier colors like blonde or white pumpkins. Avoid gruesome décor, and focus on an autumn inspired theme.
And if all else fails do not even flinch or give it a second thought if you forgo Halloween or fall decorations in your home altogether.
As much as children love great parties, sometimes saying no this time of year is best.
Halloween parties often come without controlled environments, children in a variety of different costumes and hyped up on loads of sugar is enough to send any person without a sensory challenge over the edge sometimes. Plan your own family participation party at home.
Designate a special night where immediate or close family gathers together for your own Halloween party in the comforts of your own pajamas. Maybe that’s watching a fun Halloween Mickey Mouse show after you make popcorn balls and candied apples. Make the party tailed to you and your child’s needs.
Guaranteed it will also make for some fantastic memories to last through the years.