Halloween is fun for all kids. But, Halloween, like many other activities or holidays, may be a unique challenge for our children with autism.
Can we take our child trick or treating?
I say a big yes. We have always taken our child trick or treating and we have had successful Halloweens each year.
What can we do to prepare our child?
Well, you know your child, right? You might need to ask yourself some questions:
How they act in public?
How are they while walking down a typical sidewalk?
What about crossing a street?
How do they act in a crowd?
Would they be okay wearing a costume?
If your child isn’t even going to be able to acknowledge Halloween in any way, you may want to consider staying home. An alternative could be to have your child help give out candy at home.
I simply believe that perhaps you may not want to force your child to go out in public when they really don’t want to go. If your child gets so stressed being out in public, then my advice is to consider staying home.
What can we do if we go out trick or treating?
If you do go out, remember to consider the safety of your child. If your child has a tendency to wander, make sure you keep a watchful eye on your child. Keep her close to you at all times and hold her hand especially when crossing the street.
Remember to talk to your child about being polite to the homes you are visiting. If you think your child might do something inappropriate, then again be watchful.
Talk to your child before you go out. Consider saying something like, “You’re going to be walking on someone else’s yard and onto their porch. You need to keep your hands to yourself. We don’t’ live here. Someone else does. And we have to respect their yard.”
Be aware of your child wanting to enter one of the homes. If you think your child may do something like that, escort your child to the door to prevent them from entering.
Finally, consider the possibility that you’ll end up in a crowd or two. Trick or treating doesn’t necessarily happen in crowded situations but I can swear kids get bunched up often.
If you know your child might not react well to being caught in a crowd, then consider waiting at the sidewalk until the crowd thins and then take your child to the door when it’s less crowded.
What about costumes?
In the past, our child hasn’t always liked his costumes. Mainly what we’ve learned is to provide a costume that does not include any kind of mask or helmet. Our child simply doesn’t like them and when we did have him try a mask or helmet, he discovered he would obsess on them. He would allow me one photo, though, but that was all. He is simply uncomfortable with anything on his head or face.
Therefore, think about your child’s costume. If you’re shopping for a costume and they like one, let them know before purchasing that it comes with a helmet or mask.
Of course, like our child, they don’t have to wear it once they go trick or treating. However, if you have money concerns and there’s a cheaper costume option, you may want to attempt to talk your child out of the mask/helmet costume.
My child doesn’t always say “trick or treat” or even “thank you.” What do we do?
I think most people are forgiving of a child who forgets the typical Halloween script. When either my husband or I have gone to the door with our child in the past, there were many times when he forgot what to say. If this happened, we would simply remind him.
Of course, before going out trick or treating, we would always coach our child on what to say. But, once he’d be out there, that coaching had always been a hit or miss proposition.
Still, I wouldn’t let it bother you. Trick or treating is all about the candy anyway, right?
Can my child go to the door by themselves?
You can always try it. Our child is nine and we feel he’s been to enough Halloweens to know the etiquette by now. This year, we’re going to walk with him on the sidewalk but let him go to the door alone. We will go over what to say with him, but this year he’s going to try it all by himself.
We’re also planning to meet up with another family. This way ou child can go up to the doors with the two boys his age. This family has two sons with Asperger’s, so they are also familiar with our challenges. We have done trick or treating like this in the past, and it’s been successful.
Halloween is a enjoyable holiday and Trick or treating should be fun. Our autistic kids come with different challenges, though. Still, if you know your child’s challenges, think about how to enjoy Halloween with your autistic kids. It may take a bit of extra work on your part, but it will be well worth it.
To Find Kimberly Kaplan:
www.smashwords.com or Amazon Kindle ebook “A Parents’ Guide to Early Autism Intervention”