By Bri Martin OTR/L
Is Halloween a stressful time for you as a parent, or for your kiddo? For kiddos who have sensory difficulties, who struggle with change, or those who are non-verbal, trick-or-treating can be a stressful/scary experience. This fun tradition requires kids to loudly say ‘trick or treat’ or dress up before getting to reach into the bucket for candy.
Here are some tips to make this Halloween less of a spooky nightmare.
- Look for the houses with a blue pumpkin sign. Autism Speaks has created a sign for houses that are Autism and sensory friendly.
- For the kiddo that is non-verbal or has speech difficulties, use a sign or another form of communication in order to give them the opportunity to state ‘trick-or-treat’. The sign can be placed on their bucket, or as a name tag on their costume. Autism Speaks has awesome resources, including a sign you can paste to the child’s buckets.
- Create a timeline or plan for the night. You can include a map of the houses you will visit and in what order you will visit them.
- Trick or treat during the daytime or in a familiar place (friends houses). Many communities offer trunk or treats at the local church, or fall festivals with trick or treating. The added stress and exhaustion from nighttime trick-or-treating can be eliminated with a daytime option. This is also a less spooky option.
- Practice wearing the costume. Especially for those with sensory difficulties. Wear the costume before Halloween in order to modify the costume if needed. Also if they do not want to wear a costume, but Halloween colors instead no worries. Costumes are not required to trick-or-treat!
- Avoid houses with flashing lights, or loud music. This input can cause stress responses for kids, and be too overwhelming.
- Have your child wear headphones or earplugs to help reduce noise if they are avoidant of loud noises.
- Stay home to pass out candy instead of leaving to trick-or-treat. Giving the child the responsibility of passing out candy can still be a fun activity. They are able to dress up, and interact with others in an environment they feel safe in.
Halloween should be a fun experience!