Halloween and all its festivities are quickly approaching. For many families, it’s a holiday full of elaborate costumes, mountains of sweets, and spooky décor. It’s typically a time of crowded sidewalks and squeals of excitement. But for families who are preparing a child with autism for the big day, it can be a challenging and even stressful time. If this is your first Halloween or you’re looking for ways to make this year more successful than the last, you’ve come to the right place. Our team is devoted to providing you with helpful tips to help make your family’s Halloween a safe and enjoyable one.
For a child with autism, routine and structure are an essential part of each day. Halloween may be a day of celebration for some children, but it poses potential confusion and stress for many children with autism. So how can you prepare your child for the upcoming events?
Our Team’s Top Five Tips for a Happy Halloween
1. Prepare In Advance
Starting early by preparing your child for what’s to come is always a smart idea. Start conversations at least a week or two ahead of time to prepare for the big day. You will want to discuss:
- Where you will go
- Who and what you will see
- What you will do
- What your child will wear
You can also prepare by considering a wagon or stroller if he/she becomes tired or tends to wander off. Label your child’s costume, clothing, and bag with a name and a contact number to be safe. You can also find some helpful cards from the National Autism Association.
Take the time to practice trick-or-treating. Enlist the help of friends and family so you can practice visiting a few homes and go through several test runs. Letting your child experience these real-life practice runs will help them be more at ease for the real thing. You’ll also get a better sense of what challenges you may need to prepare for or try to eliminate.
3. Set Rules and Expectations
Discuss rules and expectations with your child. Is your neighborhood or event expected to be crowded? Is your child required to hold your hand at all times? Does your child have a buddy that he/she will walk to each door with? Go over expectations of manners as well as the rules for saving candy until you return home and can check their goodies. And don’t forget to cover consequences for unacceptable behavior, such as ending trick-or-treating early and returning home.
4. Choose Your Environment Wisely
Choose familiar areas to take your child. Friendly faces and familiar surroundings will help the event go more smoothly for your child. Friends and family know your child and how to greet and approach him/her, so they feel comfortable on a potentially overwhelming day.
Have you looked into Halloween events in your community that are tailored towards children with special needs? Many times these events are intentionally kept small, sensory-friendly, and more sensitive to which treats are passed out. They tend to offer games and activities meant to hold various attention spans while catering to their abilities. If this is your first Halloween, try reaching out to your local churches and schools first.
5. The Costume
Choose a costume that is appropriate for your child. Remember to consider your child’s sensitivities, likes, and dislikes. If your child is comfortable and free of costume distractions, the event will be more of a success. If a wardrobe “malfunction” should arise, be flexible and roll with the punches. Mask not a welcomed addition halfway through the evening? No biggie. Take it off, tuck it away, and move on. Removing obstacles or triggers will help your child have a more enjoyable experience. Remember to make this a fun and relaxing family event for all of you.
Ready to get started on your preparations? Just remember to have fun! With our helpful tips, your family will be prepared to make this a Halloween to remember.