As the season changes, many festive holidays are just around the corner. However, amongst all the fun, holidays like Halloween with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can feel intimidating for many, especially children and teenagers. Some features that make these holidays fun for people without autism can feel scary, confusing, or disturbing for those on the spectrum for various reasons. Fortunately, it’s possible to navigate this spooktacular holiday in a way that ensures it is delightful and inclusive for everyone celebrating, including those with autism.
Often, those with loved ones experiencing neurodiversity face unique challenges when preparing for Halloween with autism. Planning for Halloween activities may include:
- Sticking to your loved one’s dietary restrictions while offering boo-licious treats
- Selecting costumes that won’t cause sensory irritation
- Locating quiet places to decompress if your area becomes too crowded or overstimulating
Considering these variables before undertaking Halloween with autism can ensure a much more positive experience for caregivers and kids.
Additionally, with so much epic history and wonderful autism and sensory-friendly events surrounding the New Hampshire and Massachusetts region, you and your neurodivergent loved one have every reason to enjoy a ghoulishly fun Halloween with autism this year and next!
This blog post by ABA Centers of America offers some great tips we’ve learned through the years, supporting many families through Halloween with autism so you can create or attend Halloween events and ensure they are truly unforgettable in the best way possible! Read on to learn how to make your child’s Halloween with autism fantastic while minimizing the not-so-fun incidentals that can happen!
Experiencing Halloween with Autism
For children and teenagers with autism, Halloween can be an intense and stressful experience. While decorations and scary costumes intend to be amusing and exciting, the bright lights, loud noises, and crowded streets can be too much for some on the spectrum to manage. Individuals with autism may interpret Halloween decorations or costumes meant to be entertaining literally, making them terrifying and even traumatic. Music, sound effects, smoke machines, and loud banter can sometimes lead to sensory overwhelm or shutdown in those with sensitivities, among other behaviors associated with autism.
As a parent, it’s essential to consider your child’s needs when deciding how you will celebrate Halloween with autism to ensure it’s safe and everyone has a bewitching time.
6 Tips for Celebrating Halloween with Autism
1) Ensure a Safe Space.
Consider creating an autism-friendly Halloween area in your home where your child can take a break and feel comfortable if you are hosting a Halloween party or event. Creating a calming space with soft lighting, familiar items, and sensory objects can minimize sensory stress and make breaks more possible, as needed. Some families also succeed by including calming music, weighted blankets, and vests in their sensory spaces. Finding what’s genuinely calming to your child is essential to be most effective. Focus on facilitating an environment that allows your child to decompress, feel safe, and self-regulate or soothe.
If you plan to spend your Halloween with autism outside of your home, make sure wherever you will be celebrating has a quiet space where your loved one can relax. Doing this may require discussing your child’s needs with the event host or facility to ensure they can accommodate them before you arrive. By creating a sensory-friendly space to relax, you can help your loved one with autism enjoy the holiday while feeling supported and safe.
2) Prioritize Selecting a Comfortable Costume
Dressing up in a costume for Halloween is an exciting aspect of the day that many children without autism look forward to all year. However, for neurodivergent children, dressing up can pose an extra challenge or exacerbate problematic behavior. While elaborate and exciting Halloween costumes can be fun, they can be very uncomfortable for children with sensory sensitivities or autism. Sparkles, layers, or itchy fabrics can feel irritating, making it challenging for children with autism to focus or participate in activities.
Fortunately, plenty of fantastic costume options are available for those dressing up for Halloween with autism. You can search for costumes specific to neurodiversity or make your own. Consider choosing outfits made from soft, breathable fabrics that minimize discomfort or annoyance. If a costume seems unmanageable, consider selecting a festive tee shirt to reduce unnecessary pressure.
If you can, include your kiddo with ASD in selecting their Halloween outfit so they feel included. Try to offer them selections like they’d like to minimize the stress of too many options. For instance, provide opportunities to dress like their favorite superhero or familiar character. By picking the right costume for your child’s specific needs, they can have a more comfortable experience and focus on the fun.
3) Consider Sensory Sensitive Activities for Autism
Caregivers for children know including sensory-friendly activities is essential for many who struggle with neurodiversity. Halloween with autism may look a bit different, but that’s okay! Making activities unique for your loved one with autism can make for even more meaningful, specialized memories. Some fun sensory-friendly activities for Halloween with autism include some of the following:
- Pumpkin carving can provide a tactile experience without loud noises or bright lights. It can also feel pleasant to handle the pumpkin and create a unique design.
- Face painting allows neurodivergent children to express themselves creatively and explore color. Still, it may not be suitable for children who don’t like the paint on their faces.
- Arts and crafts like coloring or beading provide a calming and hands-on activity.
You can adapt Halloween with autism to be friendly and accommodating to your child’s needs in many ways. Explore other resources for other great ideas on autism websites and blogs about autism.
4) Bring Your Child’s Favorite Autism Tools and Gadgets Along!
Unfortunately, the chaotic ambiance sometimes associated with the holiday can hinder fun for those celebrating Halloween with autism. If you plan on taking your little one with autism out on Halloween for trick or treating, consider packing noise-canceling headphones or earplugs to help make the experience less stimulating. If your child adores sensory puddy or can relax with a few minutes on an iPad, consider packing those as well.
These small accessories, which you know your child already loves, can create a quiet and comfortable environment while offering familiarity. Simply bringing the right tools helps your child enjoy the festivities to the fullest, knowing they have their gadgets as backup if needed. Having an inclusive and sensory-friendly Halloween with autism means being mindful of possible sensory overload triggers and doing everything possible to mitigate them.
5) Cool It on the Candy and Consider Dietary Restrictions!
For parents with children on the spectrum, the sweet treats so many kids love can cause massive distress to children with autism and the parents who raise them. With so much candy and treats everywhere around Halloween, it’s vital to access snacks free of allergens that might affect your child’s health if that’s an aspect of their treatment plan.
If your child has any dietary restrictions, ensure you carry snacks free of their various allergies, including gluten, dairy, soy, or any other allergens to which your child may be sensitive. Having suitable snacks readily available at all your Halloween events ensures your child can indulge in the Halloween spirit without any allergy worries or emergencies.
6) Plan Your Route.
Children on the autism spectrum sometimes need extra support during holidays or routine breaks. Proactively explaining and understanding your route can limit your child’s anxiety while trick-or-treating. By familiarizing yourself and them with the path, you can ensure the night is more enjoyable and less stressful for everyone involved. Doing the walk a few times beforehand or drawing out an outline can ensure everyone understands expectations, offering reassurance.
By ensuring your trick-or-treating route is an autism-friendly course, you’ll be helping to ensure that your neurodivergent child will enjoy walking the neighborhood, knowing there is a plan in place if any challenges arise.
Have A Happy Halloween with Autism By Keeping the Details in Mind!
Halloween can be a fun, exciting, and sensory-sensitive experience for parents and children, regardless of neurodiversity. Families can ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday by taking the necessary precautions and having the right tools! While it may take some extra planning, we hope these tips will help keep your child happy and as stress-free as possible through every Halloween event they attend. So do your best to be creative, listen to a fun yet spooky playlist, and enjoy an inclusive and fun Halloween for everyone.
More About ABA Centers of America
ABA Centers of America knows you and your neurodivergent child or teen deserve to enjoy every holiday the year brings! We also recognize that acquiring essential skills and more independence is an aspect. ABA therapy helps many families with loved ones experiencing the unique challenges autism can present to have more positive interactions and experiences during holidays and across their lifespan.
Our compassionate ABA care team understands your child is so much more than their diagnosis or the obstacles they may face. Fortunately, ABA therapy can be an invaluable approach to enhancing life for individuals with autism and their families.
For more information about ABA therapy or the autism diagnostic process, we can provide the assistance you and your family need to get started. Call us at 844-969-4222 or click here to learn about our services and what we do.