With Halloween coming up next week, families across the country are getting their costumes, decorations, and fun-sized candy bars ready. For families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) however, it may take a few extra steps to prepare for the spooky season. That’s why we’ve provided some helpful tips and tricks to get into the Halloween spirit!
1. Finding the Right Costume
Autism is often associated with sensory processing disorders, which means that any external factors like sounds, movements, or textured materials can be distracting or uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are many ways to find the perfect fit for your child:
- Wear a sweatshirt or t-shirt with their favorite superhero emblem printed on it
- Find a hooded bathrobe to create a soft & comfortable costume of their favorite animal
- Many TV/movie characters wear everyday clothes that won’t feel any different than usual
2. Practice Trick-Or-Treating at Home
Practice makes perfect! In Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, we practice breaking larger concepts into smaller and easy-to-understand steps. Eventually, the child learns and understands the full concept with the help of repetition and rewards. Some Trick-Or-Treating steps to practice are:
- Walking up the driveway to the front door
- Knocking or ringing the doorbell
- Saying “Trick-Or-Treat!”
- Taking 1 piece of candy
- Saying “Thank you!”
- Answering questions about their costume: “I’m a ____.”
- Walking down the driveway
3. Go Trick-Or-Treating with Familiar Faces
With masked figures and creepy characters strolling through the neighborhood, it’s always a good idea to add a level of comfort by introducing something familiar. The easiest (and most fun!) way to do this is to go trick-or-treating with family members, friends, or neighbors.
4. Try a Small Trunk-Or-Treat Event
In recent years, it has become increasingly popular for communities to organize “Trunk-or-Treat” events. This type of trick-or-treating takes place in a local parking lot (such as a school or religious organization) and candy is handed out from parked car to parked car. This may be beneficial for children with autism, as it keeps them safe by decreasing time and distance they’re traveling outside at night. Depending on where you live, you may even be able to find a Trunk-Or-Treat event specifically designed for children with autism!
When it comes down to it, Halloween is all about having fun and lettings kids be kids. Allow for flexibility in your plans and prepare an exit strategy if it’s time to go home – but also embrace the good experiences and make special memories along the way.
From all of us at Centria Healthcare, have a safe and fun Halloween!