Our family is excited about Halloween (my youngest son has been decorating since February!), but as much as I love this time of year, picking out a costume for my kids with special needs can be a challenge. Here are tips from friends whose kids have special needs.
Think of Comfort First
When helping kids with Autism and sensory issues choose a Halloween costume, be sure to consider how scratchy fabrics, annoying tags and bulky padding (like built-in “muscles” in some costumes) could make your child uncomfortable. Opt instead for dressing up everyday clothes that she is comfortable wearing. So, rather than buying a Supergirl costume, consider making one out of a t-shirt, skirt, leggings, felt and fabric glue. A comfy pair of pajamas can also make a great costume for any kid.
Consider the Purpose of the Costume
When choosing a costume, be sure to think of where it’s going and plan accordingly. Is your child wearing a costume for trick-or-treating? If it’s going to be a chilly night, incorporate a jacket into the costume. Will the costume be worn at a school Halloween parade? If so, be sure to make the costume easy to put on and take off, so support staff can easily help your child into and out of the costume.
Avoid Makeup and Masks
For kids with sensory issues, makeup can irritate sensitive skin and will likely be smeared off over the course of the evening. Masks can also be itchy or uncomfortable; and since they can impair vision, they’re best avoided for children with special needs.
Work with Your Child’s Mobility Supports
Some of the coolest costumes I’ve seen lately are for kids who use wheelchairs and other mobility supports. Parents use wheelchairs as a base and build around them to make costumes like dragons, ice cream trucks and much more. Organizations like Magic Wheelchair have lots of amazing costume ideas and they even donate a handful of wheelchair costumes every year. Check them out!
Jamie Pacton blogs for a national parenting magazine and writes young adult and middle grade fiction.
Have a happy, safe, fun Halloween! Want to share your costume photos? Post them on Instagram and tag @SDspecialneeds.