Halloween is one of the most wonderful times of the year for any candy lover. With all of the excitement surrounding the costumes, candy, parties and more, it can be a bit overwhelming for anyone, especially someone with ASD. Parents of children with autism might be concerned with the idea of bringing their kids door to door because their kids don’t behave, respond and react the way that people expect them to, and people may misinterpret that behavior as rude or ungrateful or odd. So it can without a doubt cause some stress.
Here are just a few tips to make your Halloween as stress free as possible. Have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Prepare yourself, your child and even your neighbors
Prepare yourself: No matter how much planning takes place, hiccups happen. Halloween is just another day. It may not live up to all the hype and that is okay. Try not to force it or stress out too much.
Prepare your child: Take the time to explain to your how trick-or-treating works. The idea of walking up to a stranger’s house, yelling trick-or-treat and receiving candy seems way too good to be true.
Prepare your neighbors: If you have the time, take a few minutes to inform your neighbors that your child will be stopping by on Halloween and he or she has ASD. This is a great time to inform your neighbors about autism in general. In fact, our safety specialists recommend taking the time to introduce yourself and your child to neighbors in order to help keep your child safe in the neighborhood. The more people aware of your situation, the more help you have if any incident should occur. A great way to do this is to drop a simple note to each of your neighbors highlighting what your child will be wearing on Halloween and that he or she is affected by autism and may not behave in the way that your neighbors would expect.
2. Use a Social Story or Picture Cards
Because Halloween is an obvious break to your daily routine, to prepare your child for all of these new sights and sounds that occur on Halloween—from crazy costumes to spooky music—a social story like this (http://www.ccsd.edu/files/filesystem/Going%20Trick%20or%20Treating.pdf) could be helpful.
3. Be Strategic in your Costume Selection
Costumes these days can be eccentric, itchy and downright uncomfortable, but they don’t have to be. Find a costume that fits comfortably and make sure to test it out before the big day. Costumes are a great way for your child to express him or herself. Take a look at this article from C&G News (http://themighty.com/2015/10/part-2-kids-with-autism-turn-obsessions-into-creative-costumes/) of children affected by ASD who turned their hobbies into unique Halloween costumes. What a great way to involve your child’s interests and creativity into this holiday.
4. Find a Buddy if possible
Peer to peer interaction and, if you are lucky enough, sibling interaction can be the some of the best support for a child on the spectrum.
5. Do what is Best for You and Your Child
You may see children running up and down the street, hitting house after house with bags on bags full of candy, but that isn’t to say that is the only way Halloween can be fun. Maybe you only get through a few houses and then the overstimulation begins. Maybe trick-or-treating isn’t in the cards this year. Be flexible, maybe Halloween could be a night where you and your child pass out candy at home together. Or, if that is too much, create your own traditions; Halloween could be a family movie night or board game night. Just remember that Halloween should be fun for everyone. There is no right or wrong way to celebrate!