It’s that time of year! Parents are busy preparing for Halloween; costumes, events, school parties, and treats. For some families, Halloween can also require a bit of extra preparation. If you’re a parent or caregiver of a child with autism, we want this time to be enjoyable and free of stress for you and your child. You may have heard about teal pumpkins signaling that the house will provide treats for children with food sensitivities, our team would like to share some additional helpful ways you can get ready for the festivities.
Children with autism rely on their routines, structure, and familiarity. With this in mind, it is wise to introduce new places, events, or items in advance. If you’ve already begun ABA therapy or another form of early intervention, Halloween is a great time to put some of those session tools to use. Your ABA therapy sessions have stressed the importance of practicing new skills and routines to strengthen repetition. Applying this to practicing for Halloween will allow your child to become familiar with the changes in routine that are to come. Removing the unexpected will help make your Halloween more of a success.
What to Expect
Talk with your child a few weeks in advance. Think of it as a Halloween early intervention. Explain what will be different about the day or evening routine. Look through images of decorations and costumes you may encounter leading up to the big day and on Halloween. Talk about trick-or-treating; the door-to-door experience, as well as children coming to your door for treats. Videos and books are great tools to use to help familiarize your child with the holiday.
Enlist the help of neighbors, friends, and family that your child is comfortable with. Walk through a couple of dry runs of trick-or-treating and practice passing out treats from your home as well. You will also want to practice wearing the costume he will wear. Will you be attending an event at a location that isn’t as familiar to your child? Stop by and visit the area and allow your child some time to get a feel for the environment. A trip to a local Halloween store or having your child help decorate your home are great ways to get him comfortable. If you know your child may have trouble adjusting to the potential crowds, consider a small gathering in a familiar environment or an event tailored to the special needs of children. You’ll find they tend to be smaller, sensory-friendly gatherings.
When choosing your child’s costume, take special note of features that may be unpleasant or hindering for him. Will he struggle with wearing a mask? Is the costume comfortable and free of irritating tags or distracting elements? Although choosing a costume is half the fun of Halloween, selecting one that he’s more likely to wear and keep on will help everyone enjoy the holiday.
At Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we strive to provide families with the education and tools they need to help your child thrive. From early intervention and school readiness to social events and holidays, we’re here to help. For more information on how our ABA therapy practices and early intervention services can support your family, reach out today.