Happy Halloween vs. Halloween Horror
Tips to help your child have a fun and sensory-friendly Halloween!
Halloween should be a fun and enjoyable time for every child; however, some children with special needs will need some modifications to make their Halloween enjoyable.
Halloween tips for children with special needs:
1-Costumes-Costumes can be a real nightmare for children with sensory integration issues. Whether it be the scratchy fabric, the constricting mask, or the bizarre props, Halloween costumes can be a sensory explosion. Even if your child really WANTS to be a gorilla for Halloween, doesn’t mean that he will tolerate the fur!
- Let your child wear comfortable clothes under their costume to restrict contact with their skin.
- Avoid costumes with constrictive masks OR allow the mask to be pinned to the costume if needed so they don’t have to wear it
- Allow time to practice wearing the costume prior to trick or treating to allow the child to experience the weight or feel of the costume on their body
- Omit parts of a costume that a child doesn’t like or appears bothersome for the child to tolerate.
2-Sensory Overload-Sensory exposure during Halloween can lead to a child feeling overwhelmed or scared which can lead to behavioral outbursts.
- Be patient and understanding
- Allow the child space to calm down (i.e. the backseat of a car, steps, sidewalk)
- Use headphones to reduce noise exposure if needed
- Plan your trick or treating route around specific triggers by avoiding houses that may have scary sound effects or moving inflatables
- Attend day events vs. Night trick or treating to decrease sensory overload from flashing lights, black lights, and headlights or brake lights from cars.
- Prepare for trick or treating by doing social stories or reading books about Halloween which discuss real vs. dressing up and pretend play.
- Know your child’s limits! Plan a small play group with costumes instead of trick or treating around the neighborhood OR trick or treat within your home going door to door.
- Attend a trunk or treating event to avoid walking down busy neighborhood streets.
- Prepare for trick or treating by talking to your child about what to expect during Halloween a week or more before trick or treating occurs.
3-Communicating- Whether the child is non-verbal, shy or has a speech delay, trick or treating can be challenging.
- For non-verbal children or shy children, allow them to use a sign to say “trick or treat”
- For those who have difficulty articulating, practice simplified versions of “trick or treat” such as “tick or twee” OR a simple “tank ew” for “thank you”.
- Allow the child to use sign language for “please” and “thank you” if the child is very shy or non-verbal.
4-Mobility or Motor skills-For children who have difficulty walking or grasping, Trick or treating can be a bit more challenging.
- Use cross body or shoulder strap purses to hold candy while trick or treating instead of traditional hand held bags
- Create a Halloween costume that incorporates a cane, walker, or wheelchair
- Have a designated “helper” to pick candy out of a bowl or basket while trick or treating