Tips for a Sensory Friendly Halloween
Halloween is a favorite holiday for many children. However, for kids with sensory processing challenges and/or special needs, it can be a night filled with anxiety and fear. The changes in routines, loud sounds, flashing lights, and uncomfortable clothing can be more than some kids can tolerate. Here are some tips that may be helpful in making Halloween a more enjoyable experience.
1. Use a Social Story.
Using a Halloween specific social story to help explain what to expect can be very helpful. Some children are concrete thinkers and need information on what steps come next. The following link is helpful in developing a Halloween specific social story: Halloween Social Story
2. Help your child pick a costume. Instead of going to a busy costume store, try printing a few pictures of costumes and asking your child to select one. Try to avoid itchy or rough fabrics, face paint, or mask if your child has difficulty tolerating these items.
3. Create a picture schedule for the day/week. Halloween night/week will likely be different from your regular routines. Your child may attend a character parade at school, a community event, or Halloween party in addition to Trick or Treating. You may prefer to stay home and enjoy the show of children and adults dressed in their favorite costumes as they come to your door step. Whatever your family chooses to do, it will be different. Picture schedules are a helpful way to avoid meltdowns, anxiety, and other challenging behaviors.
4. Print Halloween cards.
For Nonverbal children or children who are feeling anxious or shy may find using pre-printed Halloween cards helpful. Pre-printed cards help ease the anxiety of not being able to speak. It also helps to raise awareness within your community. Community members may or may not know your child has a disability. The following link has free printable Halloween cards: Halloween Cards
5. Take small steps. If it's your first time going trick or treating, stick to your neighborhood first. Children are more comfortable in familiar settings. If after a few houses or the first one, your child wants to go home, try not to feel discouraged. All things take practice and time. Participating in community activities is no exception to this. Remember that having fun can mean different things to different people. Maybe this year your child will prefer to enjoy watching others all dressed up from a distance, or maybe he or she just wants to hand out candy to other trick or treaters. However you choose to celebrate, Halloween can be a wonderful experience for your entire family.