Supporting Autistic Children at Halloween

Updated: Nov 12


Halloween is a very exciting time for children and families. However, it can also bring some stresses, especially for children who struggle with a change in routine, unexpected events or get easily overwhelmed. We have some tips below for making the evening go more smoothly!


Discuss what will happen in advance.


Explaining to children what will happen in advance can help prepare them and lower anxiety around the event. Using visuals or a social story can help to explain concepts in a way that is easily understood by children.


We have created a social story which explains Halloween and Halloween safety; it discusses costumes, trick-or-treating, fireworks and bonfires. If you think it might be helpful for your child CLICK HERE!


If you can, ask your child if they have any questions and try to discuss these. Making a map of your neighborhood and marking off which homes you will go to and in which order can also be helpful. Your child can then take this with them when they are trick-or-treating so they will be able to reference the plan and know what is coming next.


Costumes


Some children love dressing up, others prefer to wear their regular clothes - we find that it is best to encourage children to enjoy

Halloween dressed however they feel their best! Costumes can also sometimes cause sensory issues for children, try to do a few trials runs of dressing up with your child before you go trick-or-treating; this will give you time to make any adjustments needed to make your child more comfortable.


Practice


Try doing some practice runs with your child before Halloween. Get your child to go to a neighbors house and practice the routine. Explain what is going to happen to your child step-by-step in advance. It can also be a nice idea to demonstrate the steps to your child and then allow them to copy you e.g., ringing the doorbell, saying trick-or-treat etc. Asking a neighbor in beforehand so that they can have something ready for when your child arrives is also a good idea.


Visuals and break cards


Bringing visuals and break cards while trick-or-treating is a good idea. Ensure that your child knows that they can ask for a break whenever

they need one. Giving your child a break card that they can hold up whenever they need a break is a nice way to help your child communicate their needs. If your child finds language challenging creating a visual trick-or-treat poster for them to hold when they go to the door can help to reduce some pressure for them.


Small groups


Neighborhoods can be very busy and noisy when children are out trick-or-treating. Try to keep your group as small as possible. This will help to maintain calm within your own group and will reduce anxiety for your child. If your child is sensitive to noise, bringing noise cancelling headphones can be a good idea - you never know when the fireworks will start!





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