Halloween is a holiday that everyone should be able to joy no matter their age or disability status. Lisa Jones, BCBA of Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers of Indiana joined us today to share how you can make Halloween just as fun for those with autism and/or sensory sensitivities.
Possible challenges for kids with autism during Halloween
-Sensory overload related from flashing lights, scary sounds, scent from fog machines, itchy costumes and more
– Challenges around communication –saying “trick or treat” or “thank you”
– Discomfort or disinterest in social settings
– Misunderstanding of costumes, which can confuse individuals who do not understand the difference between reality and make-believe
– Trouble with changes in routine
Elopement Tips for neighbors and the community
– Understand not everyone is able to say “trick or treat” and/or “thank you;”
– Don’t exclude those not in costume (even older trick-or-treaters, who may be on the spectrum and still love the tradition)
– Consider having non-candy alternatives available, such as small toys, for those who may be on a restricted diet or have feeding challenges
– Look out for blue candy buckets and signs that are sometimes used by individuals with autism, which let you know they may need more support
– If you have neighbors, family members or friends on the spectrum, ask their caregivers how you can help prepare to make it more fun for them. Tips for caregivers and family
– For those developmentally able to understand, teach them about Halloween through social stories, YouTube videos, visual schedules and more
– Talk to your neighbors about your child’s needs in advance, if possible—you may be surprised how excited they are to support you!
– If it makes sense for your child, bring a sign or treat bag that explains your kiddo has autism and that he or she may not say “trick or treat” but they are still having fun and appreciate the treats! The Autism Speaks website has downloadable signs.
– Plan and practice: start small and hold practice runs in or around your home with siblings, grandparents, neighbors and/or friends
– Costumes: focus on interests, check out Target’s adaptive costumes, use simple t-shirts
– Know that haunted houses and trick-or-treating isn’t for everyone (yet, anyway!); consider an at-home “party” with movies and treats, a Halloween egg hunt, or hand out candy to other kids
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