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Including Children with Autism in Halloween Games and Activities

Published by Valene Streich

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Halloween is a holiday looked forward to by all kids, but for children with autism there are a number of obstacles presented by the celebration of the day. For some, seeing others in costume can be distracting and over stimulating if not upsetting and scary. For those on a strict diet, Halloween candy is not appropriate. For others, the break in routine to go trick or treating or attend Halloween parties is more than enough to turn the focus from the festivities to chaos. Here are a few ways to incorporate fun Halloween games and activities into this year’s holiday for your child with autism.

Halloween Games and Activities for Kids with Autism: Avoid the Scary Ones

Halloween is meant to be a little bit spooky, but even for typically developing children, the “scare” factor of Halloween can be a little too much to make the day fun. Mitigating this as much as possible by creating a more fun and silly Halloween experience at home may help make it a little less scary for your child with autism. Stay away from ghosts and goblins and opt instead for silly pumpkins and furry black cats.

Halloween Games and Activities for Kids with Autism: Practice Trick or Treating

If you intend to take your child with autism trick-or-treating, consider practicing before the big night. During the light of day, while wearing your normal clothes (work up to wearing a costume, if you like), you can walk your trick or treat route and even try a few doors of understanding neighbors. On Halloween night, remember that great experiences at a few houses is far more important than the number of houses you hit. Practicing in advance can make the experience more familiar, and therefore more fun, for your child with autism.

Halloween Games and Activities for Kids with Autism: Modify Their Favorites

To help your child with autism get excited about Halloween, have them choose a costume from among their favorite characters. Consider throwing a party themed with their favorite character with a slant toward the holiday. Play games with them while they wear their Halloween costume or alter their favorite games to use Halloween costume, if it isn’t too disruptive.

Halloween Games and Activities for Kids with Autism: Preparation is Key

Whatever you decided to do this Halloween, make sure that you take the time to prepare your child with autism for what to expect. A personalized picture story, reading books about Halloween, and videos (especially ones where their favorite characters celebrate Halloween) are all very helpful in setting up the day for your child with autism. A picture story that shows your child’s siblings dressed up in different Halloween costumes and where you will be going that day or night to celebrate as well as the usual scheduled events (meals, school, OT, etc) will help your child integrate the experience more smoothly.


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