A-Man is obsessed with Halloween. It’s his very favorite holiday. He gets so excited seeing all of the pumpkins, ghosts, and spoooooooky witches! Plus, he gets loads of candy! What could be better?
Unfortunately, his favorite holiday isn’t always very sensory friendly. Between the itchy costumes and the many back-to-back social interactions while trick-or-treating, it can be really difficult for our kids with sensory processing disorder or autism to join in on the fun.
Luckily we’ve found some ways to make Halloween more sensory friendly to accommodate our little ones!
6 Simple Steps to Have a Sensory-Friendly Halloween!
Pick a Sensory Friendly Halloween Costume
I cannot express what a difference it will make for your child if they are in a sensory friendly Halloween costume! Just think about traditional costumes. Many are scratchy and uncomfortable, some use face paint that is sticky or slimy, some have awkward shapes or hang strangely.
For typical kids, that makes them annoying. For sensory kiddos that can make them downright painful. Find a way to make your child’s Halloween costume more sensory friendly. For some kids this might mean finding normal clothing that work as a costume (think cowboys with jeans and plaid button up shirts). You could also use specific sensory clothing as the base for a costume.
For example, A-Man has a black spio suit. We could use that as a base and help him be a black cat! We could also just have him wear it under his costume to prevent him from feeling the scratchy uncomfortable material of the costume.
In fact, I would recommend if you have a spio suit or weighted vest for your child, definitely have them wear it on Halloween! They’ll need that extra input and grounding.
Practice Trick-Or-Treating Your Own House
This isn’t difficult for us because for the full two months before Halloween A-Man is “trick-or-treating” constantly, but if your kid isn’t as Halloween-obsessed as mine it’s a good thing to try!
Help your child practice knocking on the door and saying “Trick-or-Treat” when you open it. Also try to practice saying “thank you!” when you hand them something. For sanity’s sake, I wouldn’t practice with candy. Practice with anything your little one would like, A-Man would definitely want cars.
Practice Trick-Or-Treating Family’s Houses
The next step up would be to practice Trick-Or-Treating your family’s houses. I’m lucky in that my mom watches my kids at least weekly, so we have plenty of opportunities to practice. Simply let the family member know that you’re practicing and helping your child get more comfortable.
It’s much easier to practice a new script on a friendly and familiar face versus a complete stranger. Also, being in a familiar place will help your child feel safe. Trick-Or-Treating at night can be intimidating for typical kids, it can be even scarier for kids with sensory processing disorder or autistic kids.
Trick-Or-Treat Neighbors Who Know You
When it comes to Halloween night, try to trick or treat neighbors who know you and your kids.
This helps your child feel safe because, again, kids feel safer in familiar places and with familiar people. But it also helps you to not feel like you have to explain to every single person you trick-or-treat from why your child doesn’t answer their question.
I mean, think about it. People make small talk, and on Halloween they’ll often try to engage with kiddos. “Wow what a pretty princess you are!” “Are you a clown?” “Oh you’re a police officer, are you catching bad guys?!”
These are all just random polite conversations from well-meaning neighbors trying to help your kids stay excited. But for a child who’s struggling with overstimulation, it isn’t always taken that way. So sticking to neighbors who know you and who won’t be offended that your son doesn’t answer is a good idea for everyone involved!
Try a Small Trunk-or-Treat or Mall Event
Many churches, malls, or shopping centers host small Halloween events for families who don’t want to or can’t go trick-or-treating. At least, this is common in my area because it’s often pouring rain on Halloween here in Washington.
These events can often help our kids enjoy the fun of Halloween without overwhelming them as much as transitioning from house to house for an hour going all over our neighborhood. (Seriously, just think about how many transitions that is!)
Some of these events can be large and crowded, though, so be sure to check out how many people go ahead of time!
Use These Cards to Raise Awareness and Understanding
When you’re trick-or-treating (or trunk-or-treating) you can print out some of these cards to pass out to help raise awareness and understanding for kids with sensory processing disorder and autism. I made some up because Halloween is A-Man’s favorite holiday, and I want our neighbors, friends, and family to all understand that he’s doing his best to participate in and enjoy his favorite time of year.
You can access these printables (there are some for kids with sensory processing disorder and some for autistic kids) by filling in your information below.