A Modern Day Fairy Tale: Autism & Halloween {Preparing Your Child}

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Autism & Halloween {Preparing Your Child}



When you have a child with autism (or other special needs), holidays of any kind can be a little nerve wracking. What can be exciting and fun for most children-like dressing up or trick or treating on Halloween- can be extremely overwhelming for our kids. Still, that doesn't mean we have to miss out on the fun! Here are a few quick tips to help prepare your child for Halloween:


Start preparing early.
Individuals on the spectrum tend to like to stick to their routines. Even something fun like Halloween that mixes it up can be a disaster waiting to happen if they aren't properly prepared. We have found that for my son, telling him well in advance about anything different in routine makes the transition a lot smoother. Visual calenders can be a great aid in this.

Write a Social Story.
Social stories are a great way to show our kiddos what to expect for just about anything in their day to day life. Halloween is no different. Share with them the dos and don'ts of Halloween- what to expect, how to trick or treat, etc. This is a great way to remind them the appropriate social behaviours and remind them that costumes are just that!

Practice, Practice, Practice.
At seven years old, my some pretty well has trick or treating down (aside from still trying to enter people's homes), but it hasn't always been that way. Perhaps the single best thing that we did for him in the early years was practicing trick or treat. He would knock and go through the whole script of trick or treating. For many kids, this hands on modeling is much more helpful than even a social story.

Try On The Costume.
We have been quite lucky that my son has never had any issues with clothing, but that is certainly not true for every child on the spectrum. If your child has issues with various fabrics/clothing, be sure to try the costume in advance and make sure they are comfortable in it. If your child won't wear a costume, that's okay too...let them go anyway!

Keep It Safe.
Many children on the spectrum- my son included- have a tendency to be runners. Halloween night in the rush of children, that can be quite scary. Many years I found holding hands to be enough, but others we opted for a stroller instead. If you have a child harness, don't be afraid to use it. Your child's safety is priority one.  We usually prefer to go out as soon as trick or treat hours begin- it's usually a little less crowded and gives us a bit more daylight as well.

Follow Your Child's Lead.
If there is a house that makes them uncomfortable, let them skip it. If they seem to be getting overwhelmed after just a few houses, take a break and try again later...or just go home. If they truly don't want to (or cannot handle) trick or treating, consider doing something different at home- treat them to a bag of their favorites, decorate to their liking, plan sensory friendly Halloween festivities!

Remember, Halloween is supposed to be a fun time for all kids, even if you have to do it a little differently, all of our children can have a safe and happy Halloween that works for them!

Do you have a child with autism or special needs? How do you prepare them for the holiday? Any tips and tricks for other moms?

3 comments:

  1. I have a relative that has these problems. There is so many kids with this problem too. Some wonderful tips and thanks for sharing.

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  2. These are great tips. I need to send them to my friend. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. Great advice for keeping those on the spectrum safe.

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