Halloween is an exciting time for kids, but it can be very challenging for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) Most autistic children do not understand the concept of make – believe. I know personally Dylan does not like elaborate costumes or face painting. Fire works scare him, but he LOVES jellies and quickly grasped on to the trick or treating. By the end of the evening I was trying to keep up with him running from door to door. 🙂
If your child, like Dylan does not like elaborate Halloween costumes here are some tips to try
instead of costumes, try some Halloween themed t-shirts. I have also found by buying Dylan costumes that don’t have any padded fabrics or strange textures he will wear it. For example last year he dressed up as vampire ( but without the face paint or fangs) just a simple costume. Which meant he could still join in and experience the tradition. He felt comfortable and could enjoy himself, and that’s the main goal!
Preparing your child
If you can prepare your child for what is to come, it can help with anxiety. Last year Dylan wouldn’t have understood ‘ social stories for Halloween’ but this year I will be trying this technique out, as social stories are working well for Dylan for school and daily activities. Last year I could prepare Dylan by first knocking on doors around the house and making a game out of it. Giving him jellies every time he knocked on the door. We then moved on to going outside and knocking on the front door and then we started practicing on family members doors a few days before Halloween. It may seem a bit extreme to be practicing for a week or more, for just trick or treating but I wanted Dylan to experience and enjoy Halloween and the activities with his cousins.
For older kids social stories are also a great idea and I look forward to trying It this year. Social stories can look like the picture below. Alter to what suits your child. For example I will be putting one picture on each page for Dylan as he finds it easier to concentrate when not feeling over whelmed by a lot of images at once.
If going out trick or treating is not possible or they were only able to tolerate it for a short time – why not try teaching your child how to give out sweets to trick or treaters that call to your house. Use role play to let your child practice the skill before Halloween. This way even if their trick or treating session is short, they can still join in and be involved with celebrating Halloween.
Halloween is such a fun and exciting tradition, and a personal favorite of mine. Remember these are just some tips that I found helpful for my son. Try create new traditions to work with your circumstances. Don’t forget to have fun!!
trick or treat 🙂