– Plan ahead and help your child prepare
– Halloween traditions can be confusing because they often go against daily rules, like taking candy from strangers. There are also often many surprises, like someone jumping out to scare the child. Changes in routine, new places, and new foods can be hard.
– Talk with your child and explain that these things may happen so they know what to expect. Ways to do this include social stories, songs, and pictures.
– Practice what is expected
– Walking to the door, saying “trick or treat,” putting the treat in the bag, and saying “thank you”
– Go over the safety rules for walking near roads and crossing the street
– Talk to your child about waiting until you are home and can check that the candy is safe before eating it
– Help your child find a costume that they are comfortable in!
– Share your rules for costumes before going shopping to avoid meltdowns
– Let them practice wearing the costume before Halloween to test how comfortable the costume is when they are walking, reaching, and sitting
– Masks can affect breathing and vision
– Look to see if the costume has tags or elastic that may be itchy. Also think about if the fabric is scratchy, tight, slippery, or stiff.
– Make sure your child’s costume matches the weather. You do not want them to be too hot or too cold. Talk to your kid about the possibility of needing to wear a coat over their costume if it is too cold.
– Make up can feel slimy and the smell may affect children with sensory needs
– Less is more sometimes! For example, a child can wear a green shirt and be considered a turtle or a frog. Find what works best for your child.
– Think about how long you are asking your child to participate
– Trick or treating can be fun for a child up to a certain point
– It may be a good idea to start early and avoid the dark and busy trick or treating times
– Trick or treat on quiet streets or only at homes of familiar people to increase your child’s comfort
– Skip homes with flashing lights, loud noises, and overly scary decorations
– Look for signs that your child is becoming overstimulated and allow them to go home when needed. Kids often like handing out candy to other trick or treaters too!
– Remember your child’s preferences and sensory needs
– Pumpkins can be decorated with stickers, markers, or paint instead of carving if the inside of the pumpkin will be icky to them!
– Find unique ways for your child to participate. For example, your child may not want to bob for apples, but they could be involved by putting the apples in the bucket
– Think about the number of people attending the party. It may be better to have an event with a few friends and save large parties for the future
– Consider having a trick or treat night at home. This is easier to control.
– One option is to hide candy around the house and make it into a scavenger hunt
– You could also bake a tasty treat together as a family and have your child help
Contact your child’s OT or speech therapist if you would like help finding a social story for your child! We hope you have a fun and safe Halloween!
-Kayla House, OT