Today’s post is written by Taylor Pomilla, Community Engagement Manager at Verbal Beginnings
Halloween is known by all as a spooktacular day full of tricks and treats, but if you have a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder it can be a scary day full of challenges and stress – with or without a global pandemic.
As the world has started opening up in the past few months, the momentum has been building with eager children excited to be celebrating Halloween in all its glory. However, in the midst of a pandemic, some families will choose to celebrate inside instead of going out. That doesn’t mean Halloween can’t still be fun for everyone though.
Here are a few Autism-Friendly Halloween Tips to safely ensure your family still has lots of skele-fun — minus the trick or treating!
Autism-Friendly Halloween Tips
Organize A Candy Swap With Any Other Families, Friends, Or Neighbors!
This is a great option to still have some sort of outside interaction with other children and your COVID bubble. You could include little notes or pictures from the kids or even include a game or craft for the other family. The element of surprise is what makes it even more fun!
Plan A Scary (Or Not-so-scary) Family Movie Night
Grab the popcorn, candy, and blankets for this fun idea! There are so many family-friendly Halloween titles for kids of all ages. I like to use this website, to see movie reviews from other parents. Bonus Idea: Build a blanket fort to watch the movies in to add a little more spooky to the night!
Make it a night of pumpkins galore! Do a fan favorite fall activity and carve pumpkins! Those not quite ready to actually “carve” can still decorate pumpkins or create a pumpkin sensory box. You can use paint, glitter, beads, stickers, and more- the possibilities are endless! Add even more fun by making pumpkin cookies together, dress all in orange, eat orange food, and watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
Create A Quarantine-O-Ween Scavenger Hunt
Whether you have a yard or not this is a fang-tastic Halloween take on “egg hunting” that is sure to be full of laughs! You can hide pieces of candy all over and send the kids to find it. Turn up the fun and play Halloween tunes while they search and make them freeze when you pause the music (Bonus tip: grab some orange plastic eggs and draw pumpkin faces to create mini “pumpkins”).
Have A Costume Party – Virtually!
Bring your family and friends together to plan a time on Halloween to have a virtual party. Everyone can dress up in costumes (or not for those with sensory issues) and have a monster mash! You could add in Halloween bingo, hold a costume contest, or even watch fun Halloween videos together. All of these autism-friendly Halloween tips relate to staying home.
If you do choose to go out, here are a few extra tips below:
Autism-Friendly Trick-or-Treat Tips
Prepare For The BOO’s!
Help prepare your child for Halloween by talking about it ahead of time and having a social story. You can even make a schedule or map to help your child understand how the night will happen and ease any fears they might have.
Look In The Community for Sensory FriendlyAand All-Inclusive Halloween Events
- Search community calendars for autism-friendly and all-inclusive events in your area. These types of events will usually takeplace in the daytime with alternative children activities, limited music/lights, and offer a way of safely trick or treating (like a Trunk or Treat). These events are a great way to feel at ease and in a familiar place among those attending.
- Are you in the Columbia, Maryland area? Join us for a Sensory Friendly Trunk-or-Treat presented by Verbal Beginnings! This spooktacular FREE event at our Columbia, MD Center is designed especially for children with special needs and their families. Check it out!
Practice, Practice, Practice!
One of the best parts of Halloween is trick or treating, but it also can be the most overwhelming and scary aspect of the holiday. Practice trick or treating in your own home with costumes on to help your child be more comfortable with it! You can practice walking (with or without hands), knocking, and the receiving part. Videos of kids trick or treating or pictures from last Halloween are added ways to help with this.
We hope these tips are frighteningly helpful to you and your family! If you have questions or would like more information about ABA Therapy in your area through our Centers or home-based services, please give us a shout!