Keeping it Safe
With all the spooky costumes, scary decorations, eerie noises, and sugary candy, Halloween can be a pretty overwhelming day and night for a child with autism.
The challenges that may arise for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may seem obvious on the surface but if this is your first Halloween, there are some precautions you may take to keep the fear to a minimum and actually have some fun!
Halloween can be a great source of fun for kids, but there’s also no need to push it. Have your child join in, but only if she wants to. If any of the celebrations are not something you both enjoy, don’t feel obligated to participate.
Remember, the diagnosis of Autism does not mean your child cannot participate in Halloween, just take some extra time monitoring the stimuli.
Below are some pointers to make your Halloween a less stressful time for everyone.
- Let your child practice wearing their costume at home. This gives you time to make any last minute modifications and time for your child to get used to it. If your child refuses to wear any costume, consider letting them trick or treat in pajamas or regular clothing.
- Know your child’s limits and do only what he or she can handle. For example, if your child is not comfortable trick-or-treating, you can start by going to three houses. Assess how your child is doing and build up to more houses the following year.
- Create a visual schedule. This might include a map of where you will go.
- Practice trick or treating in a familiar environment. Visit friends and family, if possible, even neighbors.
- Partner with family and friends that your child likes. A sibling keeps them with the younger crowd but is familiar.
- Use role play to practice receiving and giving treats.
- If your child has difficulty with change, you may want to decorate your home gradually, especially with sensory issues. Be cognizant of over stimuli (bright flashing lights) and smells (candles).
- If you are giving out candy at your home, give your child the option to give a piece of candy. During the day, practice greeting people and giving out candy.
- If your child is afraid of going out at night, plan indoor or daytime Halloween activities.
- Remember, Halloween looks different for every child on the spectrum and you know your child best. Use your intuition and if you only make it to three houses, that’s okay!
Finally, be aware that Halloween celebrations may be LOUD and painful for those with sensory issues. Either bring headsets to buffer the sounds or remove your child from the heart of the noise. Preparation and planning can help you stay stress-free and keep Halloween a time of much fun instead of true horror!
Trick or Treat!?
After an extensive career broadcast marketing, Jennifer and her husband searched for answers when their oldest son hit the kinder years with great difficultly. After finally learning that their oldest son had Aspergers Syndrome, she left her career in television and became a full time mother to both of her sons. Jennifer elicited the participation of her sons and together they produced several independent programs including a children’s animated series titled Ameriquest Kids (now distributed by Landmark Media) as well as her documentary and book titled, Coping to Excelling: Solutions for school-age children diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome.
The need for more information encouraged Jennifer to elicit a team of autism experts to provide weekly, original content to a website free to anyone seeking to live their best under the diagnosis of High-Functioning Autism/Aspergers Syndrome… appropriately titled: Aspergers101.com.