Tips for a successful Halloween for those with Autism

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Tips from the Autism Society of Colorado

As Halloween approaches, excitement and fear occurs as we try to understand it all though the eyes of our kids with autism. So how do we make this spooky night less of a nightmare?

BOO! Take out the Surprise Factor

Talk about Halloween ahead of time so your child knows what to expect. Use a story board or social story as a preparation tool.

Scope Out the Neighborhood

Take a nighttime stroll where you plan to trick-or-treat and look at decorations. Are there any houses you want to avoid that may be too scary? Talk to your neighbors. We all want to avoid months of sleeplessness thanks to nightmares.

Teach the Rules of Trick-or-Treating

Provide step-by-step instructions for how it works. Don’t forget to go over what to do if there is a break in the routine, for instance if a neighbor is not home.

Have a Dress Rehearsal

For a child with sensory issues, costumes can pose some problems. Have your child try on their costume far enough in advance so that you can make adjustments and alterations if necessary. If your child is uncomfortable wearing a costumer, tie in a passion and let them dress as the character they choose or let them know it’s OK not to wear a costume.

Make a Candy Plan

Think pre- and post- trick-or-treating. If your child has a restricted diet, you could drop off packages of allowable snacks or small toys to your neighbors. Or be prepared with acceptable treats to substitute when your child gets home. Tell your child ahead of time what they can or cannot do with the candy when you get back home.

Go with Friends

Pair your child with a buddy that can help with the trick-or-treating rules. It might help if your child is wearing sneakers that light up or has a glow stick bracelet.

Eliminate the Fear Factor

There’s a lot going on during Halloween’s evening hours that startles the senses. Go before it gets dark or during a less crowded time. If going out is overwhelming, give them the option to stay home and pass out candy or invite a small group over for a candy swap. Keep in mind the constant knocking at your door.

Most importantly, have fun!

Happy Halloween!

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