7 Halloween Tips and Activities for Children with Autism
The expert team at Touchstone Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) understands the importance of preparing your little ghoul or goblin for what to expect this year.
- Prepare: Halloween events often involve lots of sensory-stimulating events -decorations, loud sounds, bright lights, and groups of people, any of which can be difficult for those with autism. In addition, some children simply don’t like to be frightened, which is a big part of the holiday.
- Map out your neighborhood: If you plan on trick or treating – mapping out your neighborhood, it’s a good idea to maybe limit the number of houses you visit – it’s better to end the night early and on a positive note than to push your child past his or her comfort level. Next, set aside some time to walk the route in advance of Halloween night and practice how to trick or treat.
- Picking sensory-friendly costumes: If your child is open to wearing a costume, involve him or her in the process of picking it out. When selecting what to wear, pick something that is comfortable without too many accessories. Consider adaptive costumes for children. Retailers, like Target, are now offering sensory-friendly and adaptive costumes for children with disabilities. Before Halloween night, encourage your child to try on the costume, so he or she knows what to expect. When it comes to Halloween night, if your child does not like the costume, don’t push it.
- Make small cards: If your child has difficulty communicating, when trick or treating, consider handing out small cards that let others know, sample printable cards can be found here. You can also spread autism awareness by indicating your house is an autism-friendly spot to trick or treat – printable house signs can be found here.
- Using blue pumpkin buckets: Use blue pumpkin buckets that indicate your child has autism and may assist with trick or treating. Many retailers now sell colored buckets to indicate the trick or treater may need help: teal indicates food allergies and blue indicates autism.
- Use positive reinforcement: Halloween may expose your child to changes in routine, new behavioral expectations, and new sensory experiences -during any of these, provide lots of positive reinforcement for any successes. Positive reinforcement increases the odds your child will continue to engage in the reinforced behaviors.
- Skip trick or treating? If you plan to skip the trick or treating, there are plenty of other Halloween-themed alternatives in which you can participate:
- Attend a trunk-or-treat at your child’s school or host a Halloween-themed movie night.
- Carve and decorate pumpkins if your child prefers to stay in with your family.
- Try a new fall recipe, like pumpkin bread or cookies.
- Stay home and hand out candy. During the day, you can practice greeting people.
To learn more about Touchstone ABA’s services, you can call (985) 446-6833, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.touchstoneaba.com. You can also follow us on Facebook at Touchstone ABA.