Halloween- one day of the year that it’s acceptable to dress in costume and go out in public.
And, if you were like me as a kid, to sneak your treat bag (or pillow case full of candy) into your room and over-indulge in sweets. My parents didn’t let me have a lot of candy on a normal basis, so Halloween was definitely a treat for me. I would regret it later though because it was quite the shock to my poor system.
But, Halloween isn’t always fun and games for everyone. For children with autism and related disabilities, Halloween can be downright miserable.
So how can you have an autism friendly Halloween? Well, here’s some advice from myself and other moms of children with autism.
7 Tips for Having an Autism Friendly Halloween
First, I owe my thanks and appreciation to the ladies in an amazing and supportive Facebook group for their input in creating this post.
4 Alternatives to Trick-or-Treating
* One piece of advice I can offer is to find an alternative to neighborhood trick or treating. This could include your local mall, or check for a Treat Street offered by a local school. Of course, with indoor festivities also comes clusters of crowds. So this might not work out very well either. You know your child best, and you’ll be able to gauge how they do in each situation.
* Another piece of advice offered is to scope out Trunk-or-Treat, usually sponsored by local churches. For this event, it’s a contained area (the church’s parking lot) and instead of going house to house, children go from trunk to trunk of each participating car.
* Along those same lines, if you belong to a church that offers a Halloween party, try that option instead. Your church family is likely to be more familiar with what your child is comfortable with.
* Another option is to host a Halloween party at your home. You could have sensory friendly games and treat stations throughout the house. This option means that you don’t have to go anywhere and your child is able to stay in a familiar setting.
For example, you could have a fun Witches and Wizards Halloween Party.
When Sweet B was younger, we would go to my former in-laws home as they were in a more suburban neighborhood. It was quieter and there weren’t quite as many kids. If Sweet B was still up for it, we would then go to the local mall.
If you think your child will do okay with trick-or-treating, be sure to check out my printable trick or treat cards.
3 Alternatives to Candy
* If you’re handing out candy, be mindful of children with food allergies. Yes, it’s impossible to always know what a child may be allergic to but try to look for friendly options. Examples include fruit snacks, Goldfish, and lollipops. All in individually wrapped packages.
* Another option is to hand out glow-in-the-dark bracelets or glow-sticks. These fun alternatives to candy are sure to be a hit, especially as the night gets darker.
And in case you haven’t heard of it, you can also participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project – an initiative started by the Food, Allergy Research Association for an allergy friendly Halloween. While this isn’t Autism specific, with parents taking the gluten-free route, this is also a good option to keep in mind.
Last year for Sweet B’s classroom Halloween party, I stocked up on Gluten free gummy worms and gummy bears. I wasn’t sure if any of the other families were doing the same, but just in case they were, I wanted to be prepared.
You obviously know your child best and their limits when it comes to Halloween.
Some costumes just might not be a great fit because they’re too restrictive or the fabric may irritate their skin. Or your child might not understand the concept of Halloween and that’s to be expected.
Don’t force the issue.
And to help your child prepare, try a Halloween countdown.
What other tips and advice would you share for having an autism friendly Halloween?
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