A night when rules are thrown out the window. Kids get to stay up late, dress in scary costumes, and gobble down candy they got from strangers’ houses. Sounds like tons of fun for most, though for kids on the Autism Spectrum, Halloween can sometimes be confusing, frightful and lead to a sensory overloaded. Here are some tips to help make Halloween night an enjoyable one for children with Autism.
Dressing Up in Costumes
As exciting as it may be for most people to dress up and pretend to be whomever they choose on Halloween, costume wearing doesn’t always appeal to children with autism. Whether it’s because the costume is scratchy or hot, making it a sensory issue or because they simply don’t understand why they need to dress up differently then they usually do, here are some solutions. For a child facing sensory overload when putting on a costume, practice having the child wear his costume for a week in advance, to get comfortable with it. If this doesn’t seem to be working, there’s always the alternative of having him wear a simple Halloween themed t-shirt or silly hat instead. For the individual who simply doesn’t understand the need to dress different from all other days of the year, share this with your ABA Technician and seek out their guidance, your child may benefit from reading or listening to a Social Narratives that outline what Halloween is and why costumes are worn, prior to the big day.
Trick or Treating
What?! Walk up to scary looking houses and knock on a stranger’s door…no way! The thought of this act alone could cause an individual with anxiety to shoot through the roof, as many children with ASD tend to be fearful in new social setting. The use of Social Narratives or Video Modeling that describe and display the steps involved in Trick or Treating, can significately ease tension. Another way to prepare a child with autism for Trick or Treating is to role play it with them ahead of time either at their own front door or a willing neighbor’s door. To help the night of Halloween run smoothly, bring earplugs for the kiddos who are sensative to sounds, skip the elaborately decorated haunted houses and set limits. If a child is pushed to the point of sensory overload, a tantrum may be looming and this will only decrease the likelihood he will want to participate in future Halloweens.
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