Itchy costumes, greasy face paint, strangers in masks, constant social interactions, scary music and black lights on porches… Halloween can be a short road to SENSORY OVERLOAD! But there are some things you can do to help make Halloween less of a trick and more of a treat for your kids with sensory challenges. Check out these sensory tips for a Happy Halloween.
Carefully Select the Costume
Sensory Tips for a Happy Halloween – Consider skipping cheap costumes, which tend to be itchy and full of seams.
Use your creativity to start with the type of clothing they prefer. Add wings and stripes to a fleece sweat suit and watch a comfy critter appear before your eyes!
But if your child is determined to be his or her favorite action hero, itchy costume and all, encourage him to wear a comfortable base layer to increase the comfort level.
Read Books about Halloween
Talk about how your child’s favorite characters might feel (scared, uncomfortable, silly). Discuss social interactions that are customary (“Trick or Treat!” and “Thank you!”).
Don’t see what you are looking for? Use a social story creator app to create your own social story.
Check out children’s books that can illustrate Halloween. Here are a few examples:
Consider Sensory Strategies
For sensory tips for a happy Halloween, consider sensory strategies that are typically helpful for your child.
If your child enjoys deep pressure, wearing a weighted vest or backpack under his costume might be helpful.
If your child likes visual toys, let her carry a glow stick or flashlight.
If oral input helps, allow him to chew gum while trick-or-treating.
Opt Out if Needed
Allow your child to help plan the evening as much as possible.
Some kids would much prefer to stay home and pass out candy to others.
Other kids can handle trick-or-treating for a short time or by going only to houses of people they are comfortable with.
Create a Visual Schedule
For kids who do well with visual schedules, make a schedule strip for the evenings’ activities. This will be especially helpful for the child who has difficulty transitioning away from the excitement and candy, and moving toward the bedtime routine.
Bring on the Pumpkin Fairy
Many kids with food allergies or sensitivities are frustrated by not being able to eat their treats.
Tracie Sexton, mom of a child with a severe dairy allergy, solves this problem with the help of the “Pumpkin Fairy.” Her child leaves her treat bucket out and during the night the “Pumpkin Fairy” replaces the candy with a new toy!
Another option for home and school is getting involved with the Teal Pumpkin Project.
Above all, have fun! Making Halloween enjoyable will mean different things for different kids. This may mean letting go of our own ideas and expectations and embracing new traditions for your family. Happy Halloween!