Halloween is right around the corner, and while many children love getting dressed up and trick-or-treating, it can be a little more difficult for children with autism. In today’s blog, we wanted to provide some tips to help ensure everyone has a fun and stress-free Halloween!
- Allow extra time for children to change and get ready. Whether your child has autism or not, getting them to stay on-task and put their costume on can be a time-consuming ordeal and a multi-step process. By beginning the process a little earlier and taking one step at a time, you and your child will have more time to get ready without feeling rushed or behind schedule.
- Provide back-up costume options. While some children pick one costume they like and never look back, others may struggle to decide on what they really want to be, and flip-flop right until the last minute. Additionally, some children with autism can have sensory sensitivities to the fabric on costumes which may make it more difficult or uncomfortable to wear. Providing options so your child doesn’t feel stuck on one costume can help prevent a meltdown just before you’re set to start trick-or-treating.
- Use social stories to help prepare for trick-or-treating. It may be helpful to read a social story about Halloween and trick-or-treating with your child a few days to a week before the event. This will help your child understand what to expect on Halloween, and give them time to process the information and feel more prepared when it’s time to get ready for trick-or-treating.
- Allow breaks in-between houses to allow for sensory breaks. With all the different costumes, loud noises, and flashing lights, trick-or-treating can be a lot to process for children with autism. Offering breaks to your child between houses every now-and-then will allow them time to process everything. It may also be helpful to bring a bag with preferred fidgets and reinforcers to offer during these sensory breaks and keep your child occupied. This will help make for a more successful and enjoyable experience.
- Be flexible. Your child may not be able to make it through the entire night. If your child appears to be getting overwhelmed or upset, and the sensory breaks don’t seem to be helping, it may be best to end early. Trick-or-treating is meant to be a fun experience, and if your child only remembers being upset and tired during Halloween, it could become a negative experience that they may try to avoid in the years ahead.
- Bring someone along for additional support. If you’re taking more than just your child out trick-or-treating for the night, it may be beneficial to bring a significant other, family member, or trusted friend along for added support. This way, if your child begins to feel overwhelmed and needs to take a break or leave early, one person can stay with the rest of the group while the other assists the child. Doing this will allow your child to receive the support they need while also allowing the rest of the group to continue trick-or-treating.
Thank you for reading! We hope this guide was helpful and informative for you. If your child is a current client with us, and you would like additional ideas or assistance, you can reach out to your child’s supervisor to come up with a plan tailored to their specific strengths and needs. Have a fun and safe Halloween!