Halloween is an exciting holiday for kids, but it may be challenging for autistic children. As spooky season approaches here are a few tips to make Halloween safe and fun for everyone!
Halloween can cause stress and anxiety for autistic people of all ages. Environmental triggers: lights, fireworks and costumes are difficult to avoid.
Top Tips To Have An Autism-Friendly Halloween
Children can be helped to prepare for the day’s activities through creating a visual story of what Halloween may be like.
Watch family-friendly cartoons and movies showing positive scenes of children trick-or-treating and attending Halloween activities.
Reduce anxiety by maintaining the child’s regular routine as much as possible.
Mark important events on a calendar. This can help children feel more prepared and less overwhelmed when the day occurs.
So everyone has an enjoyable time, know and respect the child’s limits when planning and scheduling activities.
Practice going to a neighbor’s door, ringing the bell or knocking on the door and receiving sweets.
AsIAm Ireland provides an amazing storybook explaining Halloween so your child can know what to expect. https://asiam.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/AsIAm-Explaining-Halloween.pdf
Try on costumes before Halloween. Ill-fitting, uncomfortable, tight, itchy costumes or costumes that smell different may cause unnecessary distress and ruin fun.
Try to find out why children don’t like their costume and if possible resolve problems with it. But don’t make children wear costumes they don’t like
Consider costumes that can fit over a child’s regular cloths, such as butterfly wings or capes, may be more comfortable if sensory issues are present.
Simplicity is key. Avoid accessories and props that may cause sensory overload.
Autistic children can enjoy Halloween along with everyone. It’s important to consider their personal preferences, sensory experiences, and individual needs and abilities. Halloween costumes are not compulsory! Remember the most important thing is that your child is happy and comfortable.
If trick-or-treating isn’t for you and your family here are some ideas to do instead!
Buy a pinata, fill it with allergy-friendly sweets/toys, and allow children to break it open on Halloween.
Create a candy/toy scavenger hunt in your own house or yard.
Play sensory games with slime, squishy brains, etc.
Make Halloween crafts to use as decorations.
Have a not-so-scary family movie night complete with treats.
While lots of fun for many, the sensory overload of trick-or-treating at Halloween can be a major challenge for some autistic children. Here a few fun activities you can do without leaving your home on Halloween night.
AsIAm Ireland provides really useful resources for this time of year here: https://asiam.ie/autism-friendly-halloween-resources/
The American Autism Association also has some fun sensory friendly Halloween Crafts: https://www.myautism.org/news-features/15-sensory-friendly-halloween-crafts