While many children enjoy Halloween traditions of tick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and interaction with costume-clad \u201cghouls and goblins,\u201d children affected by a sensory processing disorder may interpret and react differently to these holiday activities. \u201cChildren with sensory processing challenges may become overwhelmed with the wide array of sounds, sights and textures at Halloween time,\u201d says Sandra Schefkind, MS, OTR\/L, Pediatric Program Manager at the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). \u201cWith careful planning and consideration of the child\u2019s unique needs and strengths, families can determine which Halloween traditions are best for the child. Occupational therapy practitioners can recommend activities or environmental modifications so that Halloween is a day of fun \u2014 not dread \u2014 for children and their families.\u201d The American Occupational Therapy Association offers the following tips for caregivers to make Halloween a positive experience for children with sensory challenges and offer fun alternatives to increase participation in the activities: 1. Prepare for the day. Halloween traditions often clash with established rules, like taking candy from strangers. To help children understand what Halloween is\u2014and is not\u2014read stories that reflect your values ahead of time. Unpredictable events like the unexpected \u201cboo\u201d or changes in routine like new foods or places can be challenging for some children. Reviewing and rehearsing the activities through stories, songs, and pictures will help your child anticipate activities more favorably. 2. Make costumes safe, comfortable, and imaginative.\u00a0 Before shopping, parents should share costume guidelines with their children to prevent in-store meltdowns. Children should wear costumes in advance to test their comfort level when walking, reaching, and sitting. Costumes that are too long or loose pose safety concerns like causing tripping or catching fire. Masks are not recommended since they inhibit breathing and vision. Beware of costumes with exposed tags or elastic parts. Consider whether your child will feel too warm or cold in character. Will your child be willing to wear a coat over his costume? Make-up may also feel slimy, and its smell may be off putting. Will your child think the fabric is too scratchy, tight, slippery, or stiff? A child with sensory processing challenges may appreciate the \u201cless is more\u201d approach. For example, a short cape may suffice a superhero costume or a green shirt could indicate a turtle or frog. 3. Trick-or-Treating can be pleasant, up to a point. Practice the sequence of walking to the door, saying \u201ctrick or treat,\u201d putting the treat in the bag and offering \u201cthank you\u201d at homes of familiar neighbors. Children may benefit from starting early and avoiding the dark.\u00a0Consider trick-or-treating on quiet streets or only at homes of family and friends to keep the comfort level high. Skip homes with flashing lights, loud noises, and especially scary decorations.\u00a0Review and rehearse street crossing. Eating candy while trick-or-treating can pose a choking hazard or trigger allergies.\u00a0Determine the ground rules on indulging before leaving home. 4. Cater to your child\u2019s preferences throughout the day. Some children will seek opportunities to touch \u201ceyeballs\u201d and pumpkin innards because they enjoy touching wet or squishy textures. Other children will prefer to keep their hands dry by decorating jack-o-lanterns with stickers and markers rather than carving.\u00a0Devise strategies ahead of time by inquiring what party activities will be offered.\u00a0For example, a child who may not like bobbing for apples could participate by putting the apples in the bucket. Consider planning an event with a few friends, and save large parties for the future. 5. There\u2019s no place like home. Know when to stop the festivities.\u00a0Look for signs of sensory overload in your child\u2014fatigue, hyper-excitability, crying, and combativeness. Often, children like handing out the candy just as much as receiving it. For more ideas, download (in English and Spanish)\u00a0AOTA's Tips for Enjoying Halloween with Sensory Challenges. Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association\u00a0(AOTA) represents the professional interests and concerns of more than 213,000 occupational therapists, assistants, and students nationwide. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations, and serving as an advocate to improve health care. Based in Bethesda, Md., AOTA\u2019s major programs and activities are directed toward promoting the professional development of its members and assuring consumer access to quality services so patients can maximize their individual potential. For more information, go to\u00a0www.aota.org.