Halloween can be such an exciting time for kids and their parents. However, the activities surrounding the holiday can present unique challenges for children with sensory processing, speech and language, and/or motor difficulties. Daily routines might be altered, costumes might be itchy, and some houses might have stairs that are tricky to navigate. Here are some tips to help make trick or treating more enjoyable for all.
- Consider your child’s sensory preferences when picking out a costume. If they don’t like hats, masks, or makeup then choose a costume that eliminates those items. Choose something that is easy to put on and take off.
- Hang the costume in an eye-catching place so that it can be seen often and your child will be more familiar with it.
- Let your child practice wearing it while engaging in a fun or preferred activity to increase wearing tolerance on the big night
- If a costume is creating too much stress, then let your child wear a Halloween themed shirt such as an orange shirt with a pumpkin on it
- Cross off each day on the calendar leading up to Halloween
- Countdown how many more days or sleeps until the festivities (5 more sleeps, 3 more sleeps, etc)
- Read books about Halloween or related activities
- YouTube and the local library have online read aloud books if you need those as an option
- Watch kid-friendly Halloween related movies
- Discuss expectations and safety for trick or treating, such as, crossing the street safely, only going to houses that have their lights on, only eating completely wrapped candy/treats, etc.
- Practice the sequence of events in your own home by ringing the doorbell or knocking on bedroom and bathroom doors with siblings or family members on the other side
- Have the child practice carrying their plastic pumpkin or treat bag around the house
- Provide a sign that says Trick or Treat on one side and Thank you on the other side for kids who have difficulty speaking or who get anxious in social situations
Remember Trick or Treating and Halloween-related activities should be fun. If the child is no longer having fun then be flexible and go home. Families can play games at home, decorate cookies, make Halloween-themed crafts, or use cookie cutters to carve pumpkins. Another option might be to reserve Trick or Treating. Invite your family and friends to ring your doorbell and drop off candy.
No matter how you celebrate, we hope it’s spooktacular. Happy Halloween!