When it comes to Halloween, preparation is the key so you don’t get tricked! Here are six tips to help special needs children enjoy Halloween.
- Sensory Issues
The Problem: Is the costume itchy? Is it too hot? Is it too tight/too loose? Costumes are sometimes discarded before Halloween or part way through the night because of how they feel. Sensory issues seem to awaken in full when the excitement is high and the sugar level is higher.
Solution: Look for soft fabrics without tags and big seams. Stay away from cheap plastic or scratch costumes. They get hot fast and your swarthy looking pirate might just become a naked streaker instead. Use clothing children are already accustomed too and remake it with paint, scissors, and markers to make your designs. For example, a soft yellow shirt and markers would make a great Charlie Brown shirt.
- ADHD or Sugar Rush
Problem: Two of my children have ADHD. Combine that with loads of sugar and you have a ticking time bomb. Trust me, it isn’t pretty.
Solution: Don’t forget medications. And don’t forget the other medicine–good food. Assure that children eat HEALTHY meals that day. Good food can’t completely counter the sugar content of 10 mini candy bars, but it will give their body some balance for the day. If the children are young enough, have them take a nap before leaving for the evening’s activities as well. A well-rested child has a fighting chance of making it through the evening.
Problem: The child expects to trick or treat all night. Parents expect a happy child all night. Reality doesn’t always match expectations.
Solution: Set expectations realistically. Make a plan together before leaving the house. Have a backup plan in case a meltdown occurs. Or if trick or treating is too much, plan a quiet evening at home handing out candy.
- Scary Costumes
Problem: Some Halloween costumes and decor can be frightening.
Solution: Discuss before going what things they might see and remind them that it is not real. It may be helpful to prepare for this by reading Halloween stories at home for a week or two beforehand. It may also be helpful to go while it is still light outside. Things are always a bit more frightening in the dark.
Problem: Overstimulation and excitement can cause our children to forget their manners.
Solution: Remind children of their manners and practice before you go. Practice ringing the doorbell and saying “Trick-or-Treat.” Have them practice taking just one piece of candy and saying thank you.
- It’s All Too Much
Problem: Some children are just totally overwhelmed with the noise, scary decorations, and rules of trick-or-treating.
Solution: Opt out and replace trick-or-treating with your own traditions. Hand out candy in your costumes. Turn off the porch light and watch a fun Halloween movie like It’s the It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or Hocus Pocus. Or skip any mention of Halloween and go out to eat or see a movie. You might see some decorations, but you will miss all the noise and chaos that may be happening in the neighborhood.
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