Halloween can be overwhelming for kids on the autism spectrum. Kids with autism usually don’t like crowds, loud noises, too much activity, strangers, or unexpected changes in schedule. Through the years I have been able to put some things in place that have helped us while out trick-or-treating. Check out my tips below.
4 Tips for an Autism-Friendly Halloween
1. Pack sensory-friendly items
My family has done many activities in the past. For example, we have done Trunk-or-Treats with the expectation that we may only stay 10 minutes. I think you can still have a fun time, even if it’s short. When we go trick-or-treating with the kids, there are some things that really help us like noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, and a weighted blanket. The headphones are helpful because the noise level can be loud, but the kids feel like they are in a calmer room with less noise. Fidget toys (like these from Amazon) help if they get nervous or anxious, they can play with them. My son also has a weighted blanket that helps with his anxiety.
2. Have a pre-printed sign or card explaining your child’s diagnosis.
I have a pre-printed sign for my son, explaining he has autism and it is hard for him to respond quickly. I have seen parents of children with disabilities have printed business cards explaining their child’s diagnosis. Sometimes kids look “normal,” but might be non-verbal and unable to respond to a voice command. This happened with my son and the lady passing out candy thought he was being rude. Once I explained his condition, she understood and apologized.
3. Create a schedule with pictures and timed breaks.
One tip that has come from my kids’ therapists that has been very helpful is for me to have a printed schedule of what we are doing with pictures. It shows step by step what to expect during trick-or-treating. It has been an amazing tool. My therapist made mine but you can do it yourself by writing out step by step what you are doing. Draw a picture yourself or get some old magazines to make your own. This can show your kids what to expect. It helps with anxiety. I also have an exit plan out of any social gathering to get the kids out of situations that make them uncomfortable.
4. Bring a stroller with a canopy
This tip is more for children under 5, but it gives your kids a calm quiet place when they are feeling overwhelmed by their surroundings.
The biggest thing I have learned over the years is to respond to my kids and their needs. I don’t try to push through something either. In most cases, if I push through, my son is likely to have an epic meltdown and I am seen carrying him out, screaming, or kicking, which is not fun. Having a plan and reasonable expectations of the Halloween experience help both mom and kids have a less stressful experience.
Keep these tips in mind for an Autism-Friendly Halloween that can be a fun time for everyone.
Do you have tips to share? Let us know in the comments below.