For many kids with autism, Halloween can be extremely difficult. It’s sensory overload and possible diet restrictions. They may not like the idea of dressing up or seeing people in creepy costumes.
Halloween hasn’t always been easy for us. It’s been trial and error.
But I will never forget the year, Norrin was first excited about Halloween. Halloween is my least favorite holiday but seeing him so excited, made me excited. Excitement means progress! And I love progress.
Over the years, I’ve learned a happy Halloween needs plenty of preparation and patience.
Tips to make Halloween fun for your kid & less stressful for you
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. I cannot stress this enough. It’s important that you talk to your child and prepare them so they know what to expect. There are so many great books on Halloween that your kids will enjoy. (I like to buy holiday books, after the holiday when they’re on sale.) Another great way to prepare your kid is to make your own social story. Personalize it by using their pictures and pictures of the neighborhood. You can also use a fun calendar to count down to the days to build a sense of excitement. Buy your costume in advance – do not wait until the last minute.
Practice. Once you prepare your child for Halloween. Put it into practice by incorporating it into your child’s therapy session. Ask your occupational therapist to work on holding a bag or a basket. Maybe your speech therapist can work with your child to say “Trick or Treat” and “Thank you.”
Practice trick or treating by making it a turn taking game. Knock on your child’s door, when they answer, you can say “Trick or treat.” Then have it be your child’s turn to knock on the door.
Make it fun. Make your home festive. You don’t have to break the bank with holiday decor. If you have construction paper, crayons, glue and scissors – spend a few hours making your own with your child. Cutting and coloring are great fine motor activities. Go pumpkin picking and carve/decorate your pumpkin together. Scooping out the pumpkin seeds makes for a great sensory activity.
And why should your kid have all the fun? When costume shopping for your child, pick up a costume for yourself. Pick a family theme and go with it.
Keep it short. No one says you have to tour the entire neighborhood. Go to a few houses on your block, a few apartments in your building or a few stores in your neighborhood and call it a day. Every year, stay out a little longer than the year before. And always listen to your child. When they say they’ve had enough or when they look overwhelmed, take them home.
Plan a special outing. There are so many fun activities to do – from apple/pumpkin picking, Corn mazes, amusement parks, museums and zoo’s. So many places offer family friendly Halloween themed activities.
Staying home is okay too. It’s perfectly fine if your child wants to stay home. You can still make Halloween fun. Maybe your kids can greet trick or treaters (this can be fantastic way to work on social skills). Or you can do something fun like bake cupcakes, order take out or watch a Halloween movie together.