Autism and Halloween may not seem like they can comfortably co-exist due to the risks of sensory overload and an eventual meltdown. Do not fear, these tips will help you and your child have a happy, autism-friendly, Halloween.
Autism and Halloween (12 Tips to Make the Most of the Halloween Season)
The key to making Halloween autism friendly is to make it more sensory friendly. These 12 tips will help.
In addition to the sensory sensitivities that can be triggered by Halloween festivities, Halloween can be difficult for children with autism because they are often not easily included in fun, seasonal activities.
1. Choose one of these sensory friendly Halloween costumes
Nothing is worse than choosing a Halloween costume that will drive your child crazy from a sensory perspective. These Halloween costumes for kids with sensory issues will make Halloween so much more fun and so much calmer!
2. Have your child wear the costume at home before Halloween
Practice makes perfect. Have your child put on his or her Halloween costume before the actual day of Halloween. He or she could wear it at breakfast or during a fun activity to make sure that it is comfortable, that your child can easily move in the costume and that he or she is happy with it.
3. Trick or treat in a small group or consider trick or treat alternatives
Trick or treating can be a stressful experience for children with autism. Especially this year, I strongly urge you to consider trick or treat alternatives. You don’t have to feel like it is necessary to take your child trick or treating to properly celebrate Halloween. Instead, plan some fun activities at home, such as this Fall sensory bin.
4. Prep Non Candy Halloween treats in advance
Children are sensitive to the effects of sugar and children with autism tend to be even more sensitive to sugar. Many autistic children also have food allergies and sensitivities. As a general rule, it is best to avoid sugary treats the day of Halloween (and all days) and opt for healthier treats that don’t have allergens or non-food Halloween treats.
5. Prepare your child for Halloween in advance with a visual calendar or visual schedule
Using a visual calendar will help your child prepare for Halloween in advance. Learn how to make a visual schedule here. It will help you explain Halloween and the activities you will be doing that day in a clear, visual way. This is perfectly adapted to autistic learners who are verbal or non-verbal. You can also read about the benefits of using visual schedules with autistic learners here.
6. Explain the sequence of events with a Halloween social story.
Another tool to walk your child through Halloween festivities step by step is Halloween social story. Create a small book and write in one step or activity per page.
For example, if you are going trick or treating, the first page could be put on costume. The second page would be leave the house. The third page would be walk to a neighbour’s house. The fourth page would be knock on the door. The fifth page would be say “trick or treat”, etc.
7. Set up simple Halloween sensory play with these Halloween Play Dough Mats
I created these fun Halloween play dough mats to provide you with fun, printable educational activities you can use with your child for Halloween. Sensory play helps children with autism to calm down. It’s also a lot of fun! (Learn about the benefits of sensory play for autism in this post.)
8. Practice Halloween festivities before the actual day of Halloween.
Walk your child through the events of the day, using the visual schedule we discussed above – in advance. If you’ll be carving pumpkins with other kids, carve a pumpkin at home first. If you’ll be eating particular foods that may be new to your child, have your child taste the foods in advance at home as well.
9. Give your child sensory breaks.
No matter what you will doing the day of Halloween, from trick or treating, to visiting with friends, to classroom activities, to celebrating at home, giving your child sensory breaks will help the day go more smoothly for everyone.
10. Bring headphones.
To keep your child from becoming overwhelmed by the noise level of being around other kids and enjoying Halloween games and festivities, bring noise blocking headphones with you.
Your child can wear them the whole time or just put them on in the event that he or she is overwhelmed by the noise level during certain parts of the day or evening. They will help block out noise and keep your child from going into sensory overload mode.
11. Have an alternate plan.
In the event that things don’t go well, or your child is not enjoying him or herself on Halloween, have an alternate activity prepared in advance. Maybe you could bring your child to a favorite place, go for a preferred meal or just head home to watch a movie or to engage in some other calm activity. You could also brings some activities with you, like this free printable bat play dough mat, to use if your child gets bored.
12. Carve a pumpkin using one of these pumpkin carving ideas
This simple collection of pumpkin carving ideas for kids is perfect for families with a child with special needs. Choose one of the fun ideas and carve a pumpkin together.
Snap photos and make memories
Take photos during your Halloween festivities so that you can go over the day again after the actual event and share the memories with your child!
Halloween Posts on SLH
- Non Candy Halloween Treats
- Trick or Treat Alternatives
- Bat Play Dough Mat
- Halloween Play Dough Mats
- Sensory Friendly Halloween Costumes
- Pumpkin Carving Ideas Kids
- Fall Autism Activities Workbook Bundle
More Autism Learning Resources
- The Successful Interaction with a Child with Autism Course – learn to better understand your autistic child or students with this complete course.
- Autism Activities Workbook Bundle – build communication skills, fine motor skills, sensory play skills and daily living skills, while helping your child or students to successfully manage any difficult behaviors, with these fun, educational, printable activities.
- Sensory Communication Workbook – Build communication skills with simple sensory activities.
- How to Make a Communication Binder Guide & Workbook – Learn how to create a Communication Binder for your child or student with autism using real photos. Follow my expert guide to learn how to use it to increase communication skills.
- Zoo Animals Play Dough Mats Bundle – use these printable play dough mat to work on the names of the animals, build language skills, and increase fine motor strength and precision in a fun, sensory way!
Autism and Halloween
12 Tips to help you and your child with autism celebrate Halloween in the best, and most relaxed, way possible!
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