Tips to Make Halloween Enjoyable for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
The very things that can be so exciting to some people — wearing a costume, being outside with other kids also wearing costumes, knocking on doors and getting treats — can cause anxiety for children with autism spectrum disorders.
Wearing a costume is unfamiliar, as is going from house to house to ask for treats. New routines and behaviors can be enjoyable for kids on the spectrum when they are approached with planning, and the necessary supports are identified and provided. Following are some things you can do ahead of time to help your child enjoy this occasion:
1. Begin early (even a month before) to prepare your child for Halloween activities. Read a story about Halloween and the activities that surround it, like carving pumpkins, wearing costumes and trick-or-treating. Teach your child the skills involved in participating—knocking on the door, holding out the bag, saying “trick or treat” or using assistive technology (a picture or device) to communicate the message, and then saying “thank you.”
2. Help your child choose a costume that will reflect his or her interests. Let him or her practice wearing the costume around the house while practicing Halloween activities. If wearing a costume is irritating, give your child the option of wearing face paint, a scarf, or a hat on Halloween. No costume is also OK.
3. Write a social narrative describing what your child will do on Halloween. Include in this story information about wearing the costume or face paint, and carrying the trick-or-treat bag. Identify which houses your child will visit, what your child will say at each house, and what he or she will do with the treats she receives. Read more Halloween tips.
Share Your Halloween Advice for Children, Teens and Adults:
Do you have great advice to share regarding costumes, trick-or-treating, handing out candy, parties, haunted houses or any of the other spooky activities that take place during October? Please submit your tips and ideas below. The Autism Society will compile a list and share them in the October 18 edition of the Autism Society e-newsletter, ASA-Net. Submit your tip now!
GFCF CANDY LIST
For our friends and families who need to be cautious with halloween candy due to special diets, there is a GREAT list of GFCF candy that can be found here: http://surefoodsliving.com/2011/10/gluten-free-halloween-candy-quick-list-2011/