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Celebrating Halloween with Children on the Autism Spectrum -Here’s How to Lessen the Scare on the Spookiest of Holidays

October 16, 2019

Bangor, ME -- For many kids with autism, Halloween night can be stressful and difficult. “The night may be sensory overload with the many lights, sounds and frightful antics of well-intended people,” says Nicole Powers a licensed social worker with Catholic Charities’ Maine Children’s Behavioral Health services. “Some children may simply not like the idea of dressing up or seeing other people in creepy costumes,” Power adds.

For those that want to partake in the occasion, Catholic Charities Children’s Behavioral Health shares the following quick tips:

  1. Try on costume ahead of time to make sure it fits comfortably. Costumes are often made from scratchy materials and adding in extra tags, layers and different textures may create sensory overload for your young one.  Try creating a costume from clothes already in their wardrobe (For ideas visit: https://www.cottontailclothing.com/blogs/news-1/25-easy-costumes-for-children-with-autism-and-or-sensory-processing-disorder)

 

  1. Prepare and practice by talking about what you will be doing ahead of time so your child knows what to expect.  Walk the neighborhood ahead of time and try practicing knocking on doors at a neighbors or friends’ house so they become familiar with the process.

 

  1. Go early and stick to neighbors you know. Going earlier in the afternoon, before darkness falls, will likely mean less crowds and less of a chance of running into spookier trick-or-treaters. Trick or treat at family, friends and neighbors you know houses as your child may feel more comfortable in familiar environments.

 

  1. Be flexible. You know your child’s limits best, so do only what they can handle in that moment.

 

And for those who may encounter trick-or-treaters on the autism spectrum this Halloween, Powers shares tips for you too:

 

  1. Be patient. A child on the autism spectrum might take longer to approach your house and choose their candy. 

 

  1. Be forgiving. Some children are nonverbal, so just because they don’t say “trick-or-treat” or “please” and “thank you,” that doesn’t mean they have bad manners and because of sensory issues they may not be wearing a costume but they can still be enjoying the experience!

 

  1. Have a non-food treat available.  Consider having alternative non-food treats for children with allergies or who are on special diets.

 

By following these tricks, this Halloween is sure to be a treat!

For a printer-friendly handout visit:

https://cdn.branchcms.com/DZAwJB3wVW-1030/docs/BHN/My-Day-to-Play-flyer-HALLOWEEN.pdf

Catholic Charities Children’s Behavioral Health brings help and hope for at-risk children struggling with mental health needs, developmental disabilities and chronic medical conditions.  For more information, visit www.ccmaine.org/childrensBHH

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