Halloween tips for children with special needs

Hello again! It’s getting to be that time of year … you know, the weather is getting cooler, and guess what’s around the corner—Halloween!

How Halloween is handled is so different and individualized for each family, depending on their belief system and whether or not they want to participate. Also, many of our kids have a hard time with Halloween. Here are a few Halloween tips to consider for how to handle Halloween with your family:

1. Opt out.

If you don’t participate at all that’s absolutely fine. Many of our families opt not to, especially our families with really little guys. It’s so overwhelming—you’ve got creepy spiders, monsters in people’s yards and it’s dark! If you want to just not participate at all, what I would suggest is that you make sure you shut all your lights off, you bring your pumpkins in, and maybe leave a note out front that says, “Happy Halloween to everyone! We will not be participating, but have a great evening!” or something like that. And then make sure you go to the back of the house, or somewhere your lights won’t be seen from the street. This is sometimes a good option for our really little guys.

2. Find an alternative.

If you do decide to participate in Halloween there are so many different ways of doing it besides going around your neighborhood on Halloween night! Many of our families will do things with their church (sometimes churches don’t call it Halloween, they call it Light Night, or Family Carnival, etc.). There are a lot of alternative options to Halloween that aren’t even on Halloween night. Many of the malls and shopping centers tend to do Halloween events, so look in your community paper, or on your community website, and they should list the local options. Talk to other parents in your area, they’ll know, or sometimes schools and preschools will know.

I’m sure we’ll have some family-friendly options that we can discuss with you here, so feel free to ask us if you want an alternative. 

3. Trick or Treat!

If you do opt to go out Halloween night, that’s absolutely wonderful! But it will be better if you do some preparation first. Here are some ideas to help Halloween night go more smoothly:

   * Walk around your neighborhood once it’s all decorated for Halloween. Do this at dusk, maybe for a couple of days beforehand. Talk about the decorations you see, and how it will look on Halloween night, so that there will be fewer surprises. Unfortunately on Halloween there will always be some surprises, so you want to limit them where you can!

   * Have your child put the costume on for a dry run, so you can see if they’re going to be itchy or scratchy or agitated because the costume is uncomfortable or they don’t like the mask.

   * Have your child carry a flashlight! I’ve always found there’s a little magic in carrying a flashlight.

   * Go out earlier rather than later. Later and darker is scarier and less predictable. Plus, later on in the night is when the older kids might be out, and might be a little wilder. 

   * If your neighborhood is not conducive to walking, find a better one. Talk to your friends and other family members—they might have a neighborhood that’s better suited for you.

   * Limit the amount of time you are out. Less is more! You only have to go out for a short time, and then you can be done. 

   * Take both parents, or other family members or friends. Make it a celebration!

sensory friendly costumes

   * Make sure your child is involved in picking out the costume, especially for a child with sensory issues. Don’t select the costume for them, let them pick out what they want! Get it early—lots of places are offering free shipping right now. Order it now, try it on, and then send it back if it doesn’t work! That way the night won’t be a wreck because the costume is uncomfortable, or because your child wanted to be one character and you ordered a different one. That can cause meltdowns!

   * Make sure they have their little bag to get their candy. If the kids are on specific diet restrictions, let them participate in the activity and then donate their candy to their school, or to a friend, or even bring it here. It’s still a fun activity to do. Also, make sure that you have some candy or treat in there that they can choose.

Happy Halloween to you all! I hope it’s a fun evening.

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