Many children look forward to Halloween with the costumes, candy, parties and being with friends. However, for parents of children with autism the approach of October 31 and the extra challenges might bring about stress and anxiety. Here are some tips to help it go more smoothly.
- Choose a costume together! This can take time so start early. I like to start by looking through catalogs or online with the child to determine which costume they are most excited about. This decision won’t be made right away. I find that children on the spectrum need to see their options several times before they can accurately determine which one they would like. Once you decide on the basic theme it is always a good idea to see the different options in person and consider sensory issues. How does the fabric feel? Does it require things to be worn on their head? Are there uncomfortable seams or does it require face paint?
- It is a good idea to expand your child’s general knowledge on the theme related to their costume and on Halloween in general. This is easily accomplished with books and videos. I use YouTube all the time for expanding play schemas.
- Practice! It is so simple and makes such a difference when it actually comes time for trick-or-treating. Takes turns being the one handing out the candy and the one doing the trick-or-treating. This also involves rehearsing questions and statements they might encounter such as “What are you?” or “You are so scary.”
- Ease into it. It’s best not to wait until Halloween to put on the costume. Set aside time to try on different parts of the costume and use positive reinforcement to increase the number of items until your child is comfortable with the entire costume.
Check out our new YouTube page, it’s a work in progress but we hope to do all the work for you in finding relevant clips for teaching and reinforcement.