Halloween is an exciting holiday for kids, but it may offer certain challenges for children with Autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Preparation and planning can help you stay stress-free. Whether this is your child’s first Halloween or not, here are some tips every parent and caregiver can use to help your child enjoy the holiday.
Before Halloween: Tips for Kids with ASD
1. Create a visual story of what Halloween may be like for your child, with some pictures or drawings. This will help him prepare for the day’s activities.
2. Try on costumes in advance. If the costume is uncomfortable or doesn’t fit right, it may cause unnecessary distress and ruin the fun.
3. If your child does not like his costume, don’t make him wear it. Instead, talk about the situation with your child and try to uncover the reason why he doesn’t like it. After you talk about it, he may gradually get used to the costume. Have him wear it for short periods of time and at increasing intervals over time.
4. Consider a Halloween costume that fits over your child’s regular clothes, such as butterfly wings or a cape.
5. Practice going to a neighbor’s door, ringing the bell or knocking on the door and receiving candy.
Halloween Day: Tips for Kids with ASD
1. Know your child’s limits and do only what he can handle. If your child is not comfortable trick-or-treating, start by going to three houses. Assess how your child is doing and build up to more houses the following year.
2. Take your child to an activity in the community where he is already comfortable and knows people, such as a school festival or a neighborhood party.
3. Partner with family and friends your child likes.
4. If you are giving out candy at your home, give your child the option to give a piece of candy. During the day, practice greeting people and giving out candy.
5. If your child is afraid of going out at night, plan indoor or daytime Halloween activities.
Tips provided by the Members of the Autism Parent Advisory Board of the Boone Fetter Clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Autism Treatment Network site and Kathryn Smith, RN, DrPH. For more information about the Boone Fetter Clinic, visit CHLA.org/Autism