Celebrating Halloween doesn’t have to be cut out altogether if your child has autism. Make sure that Halloween is as non-scary as possible. What activities you decide to leave out will also depend on the age and maturity of your child.
Autism is typified by children who don’t quite understand normal social situations but are still very intelligent and gifted. Autistic children are wonderfully adept at learning and understanding and communicating if you understand what is going on.
The key to autism is gentle repetition. Halloween is no different. Repeat the same things over and over gently and kids will understand.
Start out your Halloween celebrations by having non-scary Halloween all around. Gentle images like black cats and happy pumpkins and apples and happy witches are all appropriate symbols for a Halloween celebration.
Try having a party at your house with close family members at first with no trick-or-treating. Have them dress up in fun but non-scary costumes like clowns, cats, dogs, and other furry things that are soft and gentle. That way you are introducing your child to a holiday in a controlled environment without any surprises.
Have your child pick out a Halloween costume that is not only gentle but fits them well and is not too tight. We want them to have full mobility of their limbs and nothing too restricting that will make your child feel nervous or scared. Try a furry animal similar to a family pet like a cat or dog to start. Or get a costume in their favorite color that is loose fitting. Try a costume that they are already familiar with in their surroundings that your child already likes. A favorite doll, pet, food, whatever the costume may be you can find it or make it.
It is important that you avoid scary games and activities both at home and at school. If you see that there are celebrations in the classroom, double check with your child’s teacher to see if they are appropriate for your child and not scary. If food is going to be served, make sure there is food that your child won’t choke on and is appropriate for the classroom. If possible, try to attend the Halloween celebration with your child to make them feel more secure and comforted. They will feel better knowing mommy and/or daddy is right there behind them if they need something.
If you have other siblings, make sure they understand the needs of your autistic child during this holiday and that they know what needs to happen to make your autistic child happy and comfortable this Halloween season.
Halloween doesn’t have to be cut out altogether if you have an autistic child. It can still be fun and enjoyable in many ways, so go and have fun with all of your children this Halloween.