Halloween is all about dressing up as scary, ghoulish, funny characters, knocking on the doors of neighbors and friends, collecting treats and relishing in the fun. However, for many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), this can be a difficult and stressful time of year.
Today’s blog provides a few new suggestions for parents to implement during Halloween to create a middle ground between the predictability that kids with ASD crave and the spontaneous fun of the holiday. Also, check out my previous blog, 7 Tips for Successful Trick-or-Treating for more ideas to create a safe and fun Halloween.
- Halloween is a great opportunity to reinforce good manners. Teaching children to be polite by waiting their turn to ring the doorbell and saying “Trick or Treat,” taking one treat unless they are told differently, and always saying “thank you” before leaving.
- Flashlights are a must. Ryan carried one to help him see in the dark/dim evening. It gave him a sense of comfort and some means of control.
- When trick or treating, take a route familiar to your child and family. Consider avoiding homes with flashing lights or loud sounds that may trigger sensory reactions. When done trick or treating, talk to your child about what fears may have arisen from what was seen or heard.
- If your child is nonverbal or has difficulty communicating, it’s important to make sure that he or she wears an identification bracelet.
- Another option for parents is to create a “Trick-or-Treat” card. The card clearly shows your child’s disability in a nonthreatening way. These easy to print cards are an effective tool to pass out to neighbors to eliminate explanations about your child’s silence. It’s a simple way to include your child and alleviate awkward feelings for your child, yourself and neighbors. They could be edited to fit your child/family needs.
Since Ryan turned 16 years old, he has been definitely too old for trick-or-treating. However, he is a huge fan of haunted houses. He begins talking about going at the end of September and looking up online the local houses. This year he attended three and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Consider this option if you have a son or daughter who is an adult.
Have a safe, fun and spooktacular Halloween!