It’s almost time for Halloween! Zachary (my son on the autism spectrum) and I are so so excited. If you’re an autism parent like me you know that Halloween might be a little different for us than it is for neurotypical families. Our kids may not have the socialization skills to do traditional trick-or-treating, they might have sensory aversions that prevent them from wearing costumes, they might be considered “too old” if they’re still wanting to trick or treat in their teens.
Now this is one of my favorite holidays, and I want to make sure you can enjoy it with your child just as much as I do with mine. So today I’m sharing some Trick or Treating Tips for Autism Parents!
Tip Number 1: Practice beforehand.
The first tip is that you need to practice. The first thing you need to do is show them how to get ready. You want to do some dress rehearsals. Don’t wait until the actual day of Halloween to put your child in their costume. If they don’t like it, if they don’t like the feel of it – and you know our children are more sensory sensitive – then they are going to have meltdowns during Halloween because they aren’t comfortable. So what I do with Zachary is I always try to get his costume early, and I always try to keep him included in the costume decisions. So I have him pick out what costume he’s going to be. We try it on the day before Halloween, or days before Halloween, to get him used to the whole concept on what Halloween is. While you’re trying on costumes, you want to make sure you talk to them about what the rules of Halloween are. You want to make sure you give them a nice social story. Make sure you describe to them what’s going to happen for Halloween: you’re going to get dressed (if you have pictures use that to help them with the story), you’re going to go from house to house, you’ll get get candy and you can choose them. Just show them what it will be. During that time some of you may like to practice. Practicing always helps, so as they’re getting dressed act like it’s a costume rehearsal. During that rehearsal, you want to make sure that we try it on early, and we speak about it – what are the do’s and don’ts, it’s okay to go to houses with mom, it’s okay for us to do this house. You can tell them the names of the homes or show them the path.
Tip Number 2: Keep trick-or-treating short.
Then you want make sure it’s not too long, keep it short! Halloween doesn’t have to be long and dragged out. Guess what happens when we drag it out? Us parents are the ones that are having way more fun than our kids when we drag it out. I like to go early in the game. As soon as I pick Zachary up we head straight there. As soon as I pick him up from school that day, I take his costume, sometimes we get dressed in the car, and in the bright and day time we go trick or treating. Don’t wait for the night time y’all, go early!
Tip Number 3: Create a candy plan.
Then we also want to make sure we talk about what happens with the candy when we come back. Yes, we have to have a candy plan! And we need to discuss that early in the game, because we don’t want to wait until they come back home and they’re having this meltdown because you didn’t explain to them which ones they can have or how many they can have. Tell them beforehand they can have five, they can have three, they can have none. You can decide!
Tip Number 4: Have fun with it!
This is a time where a lot of us are nervous and we’re not sure how our kids are going to respond, so when we plan ahead of time and we practice we can take some of that anxiety out and have fun with it. For our kids that can not want to go out, don’t want to, or aren’t ready for it or are just not ready for dress up – how about you have them hand out the candy when the kids come? So now you can dress your home up and they can be the ones to hand out the candy when the bell rings and you can give them a few words to say to your visitors like “trick-or-treat” or “welcome to our home,” something to make it fun! Everyone can still take part in this holiday, even if they don’t want to dress up or go outside.
I also know in some places when Zachary was younger we would go into malls instead of going door to door on the street. So we were in a smaller but confined area, and especially around 3 o’clock it’s quiet, it’s not during the time when everyone is in there shopping. So going to malls or somewhere indoors might be helpful to you and your child as well.
So those are my four Trick or Treating Tips for Autism Parents! Definitely let me know if you have anymore tips that you’d like to share with me and other autism parents below.
Right now I’m hosting a Halloween Giveaway on my Instagram! One lucky person will win one FREE month of my Ignite Your Business Membership program. My handle is @draligriffith. Make sure to go enter for your chance to win!
Check out some of my other recent blogs with autism parenting tips: