Halloween fun is exciting for most children but can indeed be a real nightmare for children with sensory issues. Everything is different to their safe routine. They don’t recognise familiar friends and people looks strange, act strange, sound strange and are wearing faces masks or scary make-up. Everything smells, looks and feels different. There may be loud music, kids screaming and running around.
sensoryTIME share some of our favourite tips to help make Halloween more enjoyable for the child who struggles with sensory issues.
Halloween Tip 1 – Exposure to Halloween early and often
Explaining in detail what to expect at Halloween to your child, to ensure a fun experience.
Repetition helps kids with sensory processing difficulties understand the event, address their concerns and make them comfortable with the expectations.
Halloween Tip 2 – Tips to pick the right costume for your child
- Choose a non-scary costume and let your child help selecting the costume
- Remove tags to prevent irritation and choose the fabric and materials carefully
- Avoid masks and/or face paint
- Practice walking and sitting while wearing the costume.
- Your child can wear his costume in safe and familiar environments such as the neighbours and relatives houses.
- Use noise reduction ear muffs as part of the costume. Turn the band of the ear muffs into cat ears or a unicorn horn. Cover the ear muffs with fabric to make long dog ears or make elephant ears from poster board
- Provide other sensory tools like chewelry or fidgets
- Wear a compression vest or weighted vest underneath the costume
- Don’t force your child to wear a costume. If they do not want to wear one at all, that’s okay! They could simply dress in orange and black, wear a Halloween themed shirt, or even wear their favourite character t-shirt
Halloween Tip 3 – Do a Trial Run for Trick or Treating
- If you want your child to experience trick-or-treating first-hand, remember that practice really does make perfect. Repetition of the trick-or-treating route will make it easier for your child to grasp the act.
- Remember, the quality of your child’s experience is more important than how many houses you visit. Stick with the familiar and head to houses your child knows.
- Start trick-or-treating early, before it gets dark
- Be sensory smart when trick-or-treating; stay away from crowds
- Have a buddy for you and your child
- Know when to call it a night before things get overwhelming
- Alternately have your child open the door for trick-or-treaters instead of going out
Halloween Tip 4 – Avoid Scary Games and Activities
- Explain in advance what to expect at parties.
- Halloween games like bobbing for apples can be difficult for kids with SPD to understand
- It’s always best to practice games at home before trying them at school or at a party
- Don’t pressure your child to participate
- For games in the classroom, always talk to your child’s teacher to determine appropriateness
- At a party, identify a “safe spot” to take breaks if needed to avoid sensory overload
- Bring a comfort object or a hand fidget for calming input
Happy Halloween from the sensoryTIME team!