Halloween can be such a fun and exciting time of year for kids – candy, costumes, lights, and staying up late on a school night! What could be better?! Well for lots of kids, just about anything could be better..! For kids with differences in the way their bodies process sensory information, Halloween can be a meltdown just waiting to happen!
So how can you set your child up for a successful and fun Halloween?? Read on for a few simple tricks and tips to better ensure a more enjoyable Halloween for everyone in your family! (For more ideas, consider reading our other blog post).
Think comfort 1st with costumes!
For kids who experience sensory sensitivities, a brand new store bought Halloween costume has the potential to bring with it lots of discomfort – stiff, scratchy material; awkward fit; and strong smells. As an alternative, consider costumes that can incorporate familiar, comfortable clothes from your child’s wardrobe.
If your child is very set on a new store bought costume, practice wearing the costume around the house, gradually increasing the amount of time spent wearing it. This will help your child break in the costume and acclimate to its feel, smell, sound, but also allow you to troubleshoot any aspects that continue to be uncomfortable for your child before the big night. If your child typically benefits from a SPIO or other form of compression garment underneath clothes, definitely include this as a base layer to a costume! The familiar, calming input this provides will be a welcome addition to your child’s trick-or-treating experience!
Consider using headphones.
Noise cancelling headphones can be helpful to decrease overwhelming sounds such as other kids’ excitement, scary music, or the sound of the doorbell. Headphones playing calming music can provide calming auditory input.
Less is more.
Limit the amount of time you spend trick-or-treating, especially if you know your child will tire or get overwhelmed quickly with more time out and about. Considering making your way up one side of the street a short distance and then turning and coming back the other side of the street towards your house, giving yourself the option to return home easily if your child is showing signs of needing a break or being all done. If possible, choose a quiet street with sidewalks and less traffic. This can decrease stress and cut down on over-stimulating input.
If you feel it would be helpful, consider using these Halloween SPD cards.
More than just trick or treating!
There are other ways to celebrate Halloween beyond just trick-or-treating! For some kids, helping hand out candy can be a great alternative to trick-or-treating door-to-door!
Other ways to celebrate could include having a dance party to Halloween music, making Halloween decorations, or trick-or-treating room-to-room at your house! You can also look around for community Halloween celebrations and activities that may better suit your child’s needs such as daytime trick-or-treating at local businesses, parades, and festivals.
Abby (Roth) Engel, MS, OTR/L