How to have a Happy Halloween
Happy Halloween! Halloween is one of my absolute favorite holidays, but for parents of children with special needs – it can often be more trick than treat. If your holiday was a little stressful, and you are looking for tips for next year’s escapades, you have come to the right place!
Finding a costume
Costumes can be itchy, tight, and frankly very dysregulating for all children. Finding a costume that any child is happy with can be a challenge, then add some sensory processing issues on top, and costume shopping can be a nightmare.
Keep it simple – instead of buying spandex and sequin-drenched costumes from the party store, try and find similar items at a local thrift shop. A simple yellow t-shirt, jeans, construction paper and some double-sided tape can make the perfect minion costume!
Keep it comfortable – many stores make superhero sweatshirts and pajama sets these days. Try using one of those as a costume instead of something tight and itchy.
Make it fun – try making family costumes or dressing up in the same thing as your child. If they are not usually interested in costumes, you modeling the fun for them might encourage them to participate in this tradition!
Avoiding candy with allergens
Many children have allergies that significantly impact their lives, which can make getting candy a lot less fun. I myself avoid gluten and dairy, so I’m certain there would be little in my trick-or-treat bag that I could actually eat. Thanks to the Teal Pumpkin project, every child can enjoy Halloween!
Look for teal pumpkins – these will be place on front porches and lawns to indicate that the house has allergy-friendly candy or non-edible treats.
Register your house – log on to the Teal Pumpkin website and register your house if you are passing out allergy-friendly goodies.
Plan your route – using the Teal Pumpkin website, you can plan the route around your neighborhood so your child can get something fun in their bag at every stop!
The act of trick-or-treating can be the most difficult part for children with communication, social, or sensory impairments. While getting candy is fun, knocking on strange doors, choosing a piece of candy, and initiating a social interaction with an unknown person can present a lot of challenges.
Practice – practice trick-or-treating with your little one. Play out the scenario and give them the opportunity to say trick-or-treat multiple times. We even have a song for that! (Check out last year's Halloween tips here)
Inform you community - members of your community may not completely understand the challenges that come with this holiday. You can pass out cards while you're trick-or-treating to help advocate for your child and encourage patience from your community.
Make a prompt – you can give your child a visual prompt on the back of their trick-or-treat bag to remind them what to say when they get to the door and the steps of trick-or-treating.
Choose from 2 – if your child is having a difficult time selecting a piece of candy, take out 2 from the bucket and have them choose. Reducing the number of choices can help reduce anxiety and keep the Halloween fun going.
Bring a peer model – if you have an older sibling or friend of your child, bring them trick-or-treating. They can act as excellent peer models for how to trick-or-treat, and your child will have a more typical experience with their friends!
I hope these tips will come in handy for all of your Halloween fun. If you have more ideas on how to help other families trick-or-treat the night away, share them in the comments below!