Friday, October 14, 2016

Halloween Tips for Kids with Special Needs



Halloween is on the way!

All the little ghoulies and ghosties are so excited! They just can't wait for the big night to come; dressing up, hanging out with all the neighborhood kids, getting spooked by strange sounds and spooky shadows.  Sounds like a blast, right?  Except when your little ghoulie can't stand the feel of a mask on his face.  Or your little ghostie has a hard time being around a lot of noise (i.e. cackling witches and clanking chain sound effects).
The good news is that there are a lot of ways you can help your child have an awesome Halloween.

Talk about Halloween.  A lot.

Explain how trick or treating works.  Watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and assure your child that they'll get more than a rock.  Talk about which houses you'll be visiting or even walk the route a few times together.  Explain that your child might see some scary things, but it's only costumes and decorations.  Anything that you can do to make Halloween feel familiar, do it.
Choose a costume early.
Let your child help pick out her costume.  She's the one who will be wearing it and if she loathes the tulle underskirt of the adorable Little Red Riding Hood costume you found, skip it.  Make sure she feels every piece of the outfit she chooses and that she listens to it as it moves.  Whatever you get, wash it at least once.  Cut out any bothersome tags.  Have your child wear it around the house for a few trial runs.  If it's uncomfortable at first, that's ok.  Start with short increments of time and build up, if possible.  Wearing familiar clothes underneath can also be a huge help.

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Choose your time wisely.
If possible, start early.  An early start will mean less traffic and more daylight.  Make sure your child has eaten and is well rested.  All the prep work in the world won’t help if you have a hungry, tired and cranky goblin.
Prepare for what you can.
If noise is an issue, have a pair of earplugs or headphones on hand.  Make sure your child has a special soothing object or fidget toy in his pocket.  This can be a stone, a soft piece of cloth, stress ball or a small koosh ball.  Costume doesn't have a pocket?  Sew one in.  They're pretty easy to do and there are plenty of YouTube tutorials to help you out.
Have an escape plan.
Make sure you have a code figured out before you leave, in the event that your child needs to call it quits but doesn't want to attract attention.  Verbal codes are easy and hard to miss. Pumpernickel, grasshopper, antidisestablishmentarianism: how often are these words likely to pop up in conversation.  Also worth discussing is a physical cue.  Carol Burnett's ear tug became famous.  Have fun coming up with something together that's unique but not too conspicuous.
Don't force it.
If your kid wants to go home after the first house, that's fine.  If your kid wants to take his costume off and keep going in his pajamas, that's fine.  If your kid decides to not wear the costume in the first place, that's fine.  If your kid decides that going trick or treating just isn't going to happen this year, THAT'S FINE!  
This Halloween may end with a giant haul of candy after trick or treating for hours.  It may end with handing out candy from the security of your own home.  The important thing is to have fun. Besides, you can always try again next year!


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