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Tips for an Autism Friendly Halloween

By: LSAA / 21 Oct 2022

Halloween can be a magical time for little ones to explore their imagination and connect with others in something fun. However, participating in this seasonal celebration may be a bit challenging for your family. 

There are new elements to the environment. Some loud, some bright, and some scary. 

Children are dressing up in costumes that might involve new materials that are itchy and uncomfortable. You might encounter other people who are noisy and rowdy. 

This time of the year can be an incredible experience, but can also be an overwhelming one. Whether it's a sensory challenge, difficulty with moving from place to place, encountering new people, or communicating needs and wants, you want to ensure that their involvement can be memorable for both of you!

Here are 5 tips for making your Halloween adventure for your child enjoyable and positive.

  1. Keep costumes simple
    Look for materials that are soft and easy to put on.  A simple outfit can be paired with elements such as a headband, face makeup, or a hat to create a unique costume. There are options available at department stores that provide all kinds of character ears to pair with staffs, wands, or tails!
  2. Make new encounters positive
    Remember that sometimes Halloween decorations or house set ups can trigger different reactions. Some settings might be overwhelming, confusing, or scary. When approaching every new house, prepare them for the encounter by pointing out elements you know your child would enjoy. "Look at those pretty lights!" or "What a funny ghost! You see they're so silly!". This will redirect attention away from elements that might be too scary to something positive.

    When approaching a new person handing out candies, provide simple prompts to help them make the encounter positive. If your child does not want to speak, you can provide positive feedback for your child's attempt to walk to the door or lift their basket. Keep in mind that it might be overwhelming to encounter new people. Allow them to communicate when they are not comfortable and help support them through the process.

  3. Provide learning opportunities along the way
    While it's not necessary to teach at all times, ‘Trick or Treating' can be a fun way to explore new things and learn! Point out decorations they might enjoy and ask them how many they see. Encourage them to point out things they find in the environment. Ask them what they are enjoying most about the experience. Describe the experience that you are having in the moment with them. Helping them explore these thoughts and practice talking about them. Provide lots of encouragement and support through this process as they demonstrate their independence in the experience.

  4. Provide breaks when they ask for them
    Sometimes this is a sensory overload for our kids. All the walking, encountering new people, and variables that come with it are a lot to process. They are putting all their energy into this experience as best they can; it can be a lot. If you recognize the signs that your child is getting tired or frustrated, give them a moment. Tell them we can sit for a few minutes or take a break in the car while they restore their energy. Just having a few minutes can significantly boost your child's confidence, calmness, and mood. Halloween is a lot for any adult or child. 
  5. Create a simple plan for your ‘Trick or Treating' outing
    The unknown can be overwhelming, making the trip tougher over the long run. Routines help create expectations and comfort for kids who need this. Rather than attempting to visit every house in your neighborhood, identify how many houses would be seen. You could also make your house their first stop on the journey to create a level of comfort when approaching the door! Prime your child for this plan by stating how many houses you plan to visit. They can count each one if this boosts their motivation. Create a tally system on your phone or paper for those who are visual. Again another option is even creating a map that you both can look at and mark off places as you visit them. This can be a fun adventure for our learners!

Be sure to explore these other options for a fun, inspiring Halloween season!halloween

‘Trick or Treat' Alternatives for Children with Autism

Fall Yarn Sensory Bin

Halloween Learning Activities for Kids with Autism

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