Preparing Your Kid for Halloween

Halloween is often thought of as every child's dream: from free candy to make-believe characters, the spirit of Halloween is often best captured through the joy of the children that celebrate it. However, children who have Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, may find it more difficult and overwhelming, especially if it's their first outing. In these cases, it is always a good practice to prepare or ease them into the holiday so that they do not become overwhelmed. 

Pre-Halloween:

One good way to ease them into the idea of Halloween could be creating a simple story of your own, or simply using one that you find with additional pictures and visuals to go along with it. It may be a good practice to start with lighter themed characters such as superhero's or TV character's they know, as opposed to some of the more frightening characters such as ghouls or witches; remind them that none of these characters are real, this goes for decorations, costumes, movies, and stories. A good idea would be treating Halloween as a month, rather than simply a day, and to start showing them the concepts ahead of time. Trying their costumes on before the big day will give them time to get used to them, and if they're unhappy with the costume, it will give you time to replace it. 

Note

Some children with sensory issues may not be able to tolerate a costume due to its bright colors or different types of fabric. Consider alternative costumes that may be more simple and/or minimal, such as wings or a cape that can fit over their regular clothing, or even a colorful t-shirt. It is important for them to know that they can still be involved, even if they decide not to wear a costume. 

Practicing going door to door before Halloween is a good idea. Not only will it get your child into the routine of going up to the door, knocking, and saying trick or treat, it will also be a good reminder to those in your area that your child has special needs: this way, they can help make the process easier by accommodating to any needs of your child. 

Halloween Safety Measures.

Taking special precautions for children with ASD is essential. Your child may have a tendency to wander as it is, but even if that's not the case, the new sites, scenes, and sounds can spark a lot more curiosity than the average day out.

 Some safety measures you may want to take include:

  • Having more than one adult - This way you can designate times for each adult to watch the child so that the child is never unsupervised

  • Make sure your child is easily visible - Strategically choosing a costume for its color, or purchasing additional reflectors, will help ensure that your child can be easily spotted if they wander off. 

  • Make sure you are easily visible - Your child may have an easier time finding you than the latter if for example they are lost in a crowd of other children. 

Halloween Decorations

Flashing lights, scary decorations, loud sounds, and surprises are all possible triggers for a child with ASD. If it's their first Halloween, it may be best to avoid these houses altogether. You can do this by planning your route ahead of time, and not going too far from home. Even if they seem like they're ready to keep going, it doesn't hurt to start out small and expand in the recurring years. If you do happen to approach these houses, a couple of good practices include:

  • Reminding them that none of it is real

  • Bringing them around the area in the light so they have a chance to get used to it

Halloween Treats.

Part of the pre-Halloween training should include telling your child not to eat anything without your permission. This way, you can sort through any treats that they may be allergic to, and have some treats ready to trade them out for. Another way to avoid having your child feel singled out would be going to the neighbor's houses beforehand and giving them allergy-free treats to hand out. 

Conclusion

As every child is different, it is important to consider their individual needs. It is better to end the night too soon than to end it too late. Have a happy Halloween!

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