So it is the season of pumpkins and spices, autumnal colors and harvest. Yes, it’s Halloween and for children on the Spectrum this can be a literal nightmare. So, how can we have an Autism friendly Halloween?
Halloween like many other celebrations can cause an extreme amount of sensory overload for children who are on the Autism Spectrum. There is an overdose of color, sound, sensation and food.
This can cause extreme anxiety and as I said and sensory overwhelm. So how can you get your child to participate in Halloween and ‘trick or treating’ if they are on the Autism Spectrum?
First is first, if you child is uncomfortable, doesn’t want to participate please don’t make them. Of course you can encourage and try some of the other tips I suggest to get them past the sensory issues that they will experience, but never force a child on the Spectrum to do anything.
Here are some tips:
You might be thinking that this is going to take a little bit of work and yes it will. The first few experiences will always be more work than the subsequent experiences. If we want children who are on the Autism Spectrum to assimilate and be ‘included’ in society and the events that occur around them, we have to meet them where they are at first.
What do I mean by that?
For them, they will not understand Halloween in the same way that a neurotypical child will. They will think it doesn’t make sense and if something doesn’t make sense it makes them nervous and apprehensive. So, we meet them at a place where it can begin to make sense to them. Small steps, moving forward. Give them as much information as possible to prepare them and with support from loving people around them they might get to ‘trick or treat’ at one or two houses. If that’s all they
get to do to start with, then that’s an achievement. Next year, try for four houses. I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t let your child’s differences prevent you from trying. Work around them. There is always a way!
If it doesn’t work this year, try a different plan next year. What was it that didn’t work? Make adjustments and ensure you don’t repeat the same plan again. Everything with Autism is trial and error, but we will never know what your child can achieve if we don’t try.