Tips for Halloween for Children with Autism
Halloween can be a fun holiday, but for some children and families Halloween may cause more stress than fun.
We want to try to create a fun halloween for ALL children and to remember we may need to adjust how we approach the holiday.
For some children wearing a halloween costume may not feel good to them or scare them. Try to pick out a costume that your child will enjoy wearing, but if wearing a costume is too overwhelming for your child, don’t force them to wear one. You could try to find a t-shirt with a cartoon character they like or have them wear a hat or headband if they can tolerate that.
Tips for Picking out a Halloween Costume
- Find a texture that your child will be able to tolerate. Try to have them go to the store to try on the costume with you.
- Try making your own costume out of comfortable clothes you know they like. Such as a soft cotton shirt and sweat pants could be paired with a tail or ears.
- If they are afraid of wearing a mask, don’t make them
- Find a character that they are motivated by such as a favorite cartoon character or video game character
- Find a costume that will be okay with the weather wherever you live
- Provide opportunities for your child to wear the costume ahead of time to help them get used to wearing the costume
- If your child cannot tolerate a costume, you could try a Halloween themed alternative such as a pumpkin shirt, orange colored shirt, or even a princess shirt.
Talk to your child about Halloween and Trick or Treating ahead of time so they can understand the process.
One way you can talk to your kids about Halloween and Trick or Treating is through our FREE Trick or Treating Social Story!!
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Use social stories and pictures to help your child understand why we dress up in costumes and the process for how we complete the steps for Trick or Treating. Also be sure to talk to your child about safety awareness and ways to stay safe with you on Halloween.
If your child has difficulty going house to house find alternatives for them to participate with trick or treating. Maybe they could stay home and help a parent hand out candy to other kids. Maybe they could just go to one house of a family member or a best friend where they feel comfortable to help participate in the experience. If they become overwhelmed with the face to face interactions see if a sibling or friend can collect the candy or items for them. If they are afraid of the dark, see if there are opportunities in your neighborhood where they do trick or treating activities in the day time when it is light outside. See if your local nursing home has a trick or treat night where you can go to an indoor building. You could try practicing and role playing trick or treating at your home ahead of time and create this to be a fun experience for all of your children.
If you are invited to a Halloween party and large crowds are hard for your child maybe you could arrive early when the crowd is small and leave before it gets to be too large and overwhelming for your child. If you notice your child is getting overwhelmed, but can’t verbally tell you this help them to leave the situation and take a break. You could try taking a break in your car, or if it is a party where you know the family well, see if they will let you retreat to a quiet room to spend some time alone for a little while.
Ways to keep your child SAFE this Halloween
- Talk to them about strangers and how to stay with you
- Tell them about how to contact you if they get separated from you
- Make a plan ahead of time about what houses you may go to and/or the route you may take
- Talk to your child about going to houses with their lights on and to houses where they know the people
- Tell them not to eat candy or food items if they don’t know what it is
- Talk to them about how to go up to the houses and how to talk to the people answering the door
- Try not to let them run outside and walk with you
- Teach them about how to look out for cars if you are walking around the neighborhood
- Talk to your child about a safe word that you come up with ahead of time, so if someone was trying to pick them up, they can ask what is the safe word and if they don’t know it then the child can know not to go with them.
In addition you can talk to your child about the different halloween decorations and what sounds they may hear with the decorations. Some decorations make noises when you go up to them and may scare you. Talk to them about how the decoration is not real and will not hurt them. If they can handle it maybe play them different sounds they could hear, such as howls, eerie sounds, or even screams.
Remember not all children will be able to verbally say “trick or treat”. Be patient and allow time for children to answer your questions. If they don’t respond to you, don’t get mad and instead remain calm and don’t raise your voice. Be patient and respectful to all of the children that come to your door.
We would love to hear what your strategies are for helping your child have a fun and safe Halloween! What are strategies you have used with your child to help them have a safe Halloween? Leave us your comments down below!
We wish you all a SAFE and FUN Halloween!!
Are you looking for more resources?
Check out our post about Halloween Social Situations and download our FREE Social Situation and Problem Solving Cards HERE!
Does your child need help learning personal hygiene self care skills? Check out our first Ebook all about Everyday Life Skills Personal Hygiene Skills in the Bathroom HERE!