I didn’t grow up celebrating Halloween and don’t have a particular attachment to the holiday, but since it is Arizona’s FAVORITE celebration of the year, I have a few tips to share on how to make it a safe and memorable one for her.
Make A Plan – As with most children in general and certainly those on the Autism Spectrum, having a plan for the day / evening (including a visual schedule and trying on costumes ahead of time) can make all the difference for a smooth experience.
Keep It Simple – No need to over plan, a simple schedule is usually the most effective. Usually, we make a plan to walk a few blocks around the neighborhood with a friend or two (familiar faces and relationships are comforting). Overstimulation is a real thing and Halloween includes possibilities for sensory overload in all areas. Limiting your “celebration” time can help offset any meltdowns due to sensory dysfunction.
Plan for Sugar / Treats – Arizona is allergic to 90% of the treats passed out on Halloween. I blogged about The Teal Pumpkin Project last year, as an alternative to passing out candy and food goodies. It is an easy way to allow for children with allergies to feel successful in their trick or treating efforts.
Practice Social Skills – Because of Arizona’s allergy to most candies, we have focused on Trick or Treating as a way to walk and talk with friends, ring neighbors’ doorbells and make a connection with them (look with your eyes) and have a script : “Trick or Treat!” Typically, additional conversation will ensue, with Arizona engaging in questions such as, “Tell me about your costume!” “What are your favorite candies?” “Are you having fun?” Social Thinking is a huge part of Arizona’s therapeutic plan these days. Knowing when to start and end conversations including staying on topic is a fun practice while walking the neighborhood.
Whatever your plans for the day (perhaps an LA Dodgers win for World Series Game # 6??), enjoy each minute and be safe!
I would love to hear from you : please share any additional hints and tips for making the day a successful one!