Halloween is a fun night of costumes and candy for kids of all ages. But for those on the autism spectrum, the excitement and stimulation can be overwhelming. Helping your child know what to expect from Halloween can help make it a fun time for everyone.
To help you get Halloween off to a good start:
- Talk about it: Help your child learn what to expect around Halloween. Create a personalized social story that explains the day.
- Hang a sign on your door or window to let visitors know that your home is autism-friendly.
Halloween decorations often come with bright, flashing lights and loud sounds. They can be fun, they may also be frightening. Make Halloween sights and sounds less challenging for your child:
- Explain that the decorations and sounds are just pretend. They’re just a silly way for people to celebrate.
- If possible, avoid things like flashing lights, moving decorations, and fog machines.
- Take headphones or ear plugs, and sensory toys when you know that there will be loud noises and sounds.
Remember that your child’s comfort and happiness are a priority. Lots of kids wear costumes on Halloween, but they are not required!
If your child wants to dress up:
- Make it fun: Think about your child’s special interests when helping them choose a costume. Try a favorite superhero or animal! Allow your child to dress up without judgment, no matter what their age.
- Try it on: Have your child put on the costume a few times before Halloween so they get used to how it feels. Think about getting the costume in a larger size so your child can wear their own clothes underneath.
- Don’t use face painting or costumes that are challenging for your child’s sensory experience.
If your child wants to trick-or-treat, here are some things you can do to make it enjoyable:
- Practice: Explain what happens during trick-or-treating so your child knows what to expect. Describe who they’ll see and what they’ll do and say. Then role play.
- If you child is nonverbal or cannot say “trick or treat,” make a sign that simply says, “Trick-or-treat.”
- Go with friends and neighbors. Staying close to home means you can get home quickly to take a break if you need to.
- Find “trunk or treat” activities at your school or in your community. Trunk or treat, is where parents gather in a parking lot and decorate the trunks of their cars for Halloween. Kids can trick-or-treat from car to car. It can be a great alternative to trick-or-treating on Halloween night, or it can be a great way to practice.
- CANDY: Teach your child not to eat anything they get from trick-or-treating without your permission. Before Halloween, deliver allergy-friendly treats to neighbors to give to your child on Halloween.
Like wearing a costume, trick-or-treating is not a requirement. Consider staying at home and:
- Have your child help pass out candy to trick-or-treaters
- Relax with a good book or movie
- Bake and cook spooky treats
- Make Halloween crafts
Even in familiar environments during the holidays can present challenges. Here are some ways to stay safe:
- Have your child wear light-up sneakers or glow-stick bracelets to make them easier to spot after dark.
- Wear something that distinguishes you from the crowd so your child can easily find you.
- Make sure your child has identification on them and a way to communicate if they are lost. If they are nonverbal, write your name and cell phone number on paper and put it in your child’s pockets.
- Before you leave the house, take a picture of your little one in their costume. This will ensure you have a recent photo of your child that captures what they are wearing in case they get lost.
Consider COVID-19 safety, especially if your child hasn’t been vaccinated. Here are some tips:
- For giving out treats, consider sitting outside and lining up individually prepackaged goodies on a table for children to take.
- Trick or treat in small groups, and make sure to keep a safe distance from others outside of your household.
- Wash your hands when you return home from trick or treating.
The BHW team wishes you and your family a fun, safe and happy Halloween!