6 Tips To Make Halloween Autism-Friendly

Thursday October 19, 2023 at 2:14 PM


Most kids think of Halloween as a time to run around with friends for free, unlimited candy. Although that is the case, Halloween is also a time for loud noises, spooky costumes, flashing lights, and itchy costumes. Most children can overlook those things because after all, free candy is exciting, but for autistic children, it can be a bit of a struggle to overlook. Because of that, it’s important for parents to plan in advance so both parents and children are able to enjoy the spirit of Halloween. In this blog, we’re providing 6 tips to help you prep your child for Halloween!

    1. Talk to your child about Halloween. Give them a heads up on what kinds of decorations, costumes, and noises they might see and hear. Showing your child visuals like a social story or even a YouTube video of kids trick-or-treating could be helpful for what’s to be expected during their Halloween adventure.

    2. Have your child practice wearing their costume. Suggesting to your child to wear their costume around the house can get them used to the material and feel of the attire. If you notice any discomfort prior, you have time to possibly fix the issues your child has with their costume. You can also use the time they are wearing their costume to rehearse saying or showing a sign that says “trick-or-treat” and “thank you”, depending on if your child is non-verbal.

    3. Allow extra time for your child to change and get ready. By beginning the process of getting dressed a bit earlier, you’re able to potentially avoid the struggles of getting your child in their costume, feeling rushed, or overstimulating your child. Having back up costume options could be beneficial in the case they change their mind or their initial chosen costume starts to bother them sensory-wise.

    4. Allow for sensory breaks. With all the loud noises, flashing lights, and crowds of kids running around in costumes, trick-or-treating can get overwhelming. Offering breaks to your child in between houses every so often during the night can be a way to avoid overstimulation. It could be helpful to bring a bag with your child’s preferred items and reinforcers to occupy them during the sensory breaks.

    5. Be flexible. If sensory breaks don’t seem to be helping and your child appears to be getting overwhelmed and upset, you can always decide to end trick-or-treating early and head home for the night. Trick-or-treating is meant to be a fun experience, if your child only remembers the stress from Halloween night, it could become a negative association they try to avoid in the future.

    6. If possible, bring someone along for additional support. If you’re taking more than just your child trick-or-treating, taking a significant other, family member or trusted friend could make a big difference. This way if any issues come up where your child may need a break from the group, there will be another adult present to step in for support and supervision.

We hope these tips are helpful when preparing for an autism-friendly Halloween. As always, you can seek out your child’s BCBA for additional advice that’s specific to your child’s needs. Happy trick-or-treating!

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