It’s hard to believe it’s already that time of year for fall decorations, bonfires, football games and Halloween preparations. As parents, we hope Halloween night is filled with wonderful memories and way more treats than tricks for all. To help your child experience the fun of the season, it’s good to prepare for any obstacles you may encounter before the costume is put on and the candy bag is in hand.
Here are some tips and tricks (the good kind!) to help create the inclusive Halloween experience for your child you are longing for them to have.
Find the right costume.
If your child experiences sensory sensitivities, then the itchy witch costume or the costume with the plastic mask may not be a good fit. If your child really wants to go that route, bring them to the store and have them try on the costume to see if any of the fabric or material bothers them. If they are itching or tugging, it probably isn’t going to be on for long on Halloween night. Certain stores, such as Target, have sensory-friendly and adaptive Halloween costumes. All you need to do is type “sensory friendly Halloween costumes” in the search box on the website and see what comes up. Etsy is also another great place to shop for sensory-friendly costumes, but you want to be sure you plan ahead and get your order in time because this may take a bit longer than your traditional store.
Prepare for sensory disruptions.
There is a whole lot happening on Halloween night. Kids are roaming the streets in costume, decorations are up, adults might be having a bonfire in the cul de sac, music is playing, lights are flashing and more. It’s definitely not your typical night in the neighborhood and this can feel like a lot to a child with sensory sensitivities. To help eliminate some of the disruptions, consider going trick-or-treating as early as possible when it’s still light outside and not as many people are out yet.
If you are in a large neighborhood with a Facebook page, try reaching out to your neighbors to see if they would be willing to host a sensory hour in your neighborhood prior to the traditional trick-or-treat hours. This will allow children who may be overwhelmed by the Halloween experience to trick-or-treat earlier than their peers, without as many disruptions.
Also, weather can vary greatly from one Halloween to the next. Be sure to check before you head out and prepare accordingly for whatever weather is coming your way.
Give candy alternatives.
There might be some foods that aren’t good for your child or other children to consume, such as candy with dyes or candy that contains peanuts or other common allergens. Consider giving alternatives to those sweet treats. There are plenty of things kids enjoy other than candy, such as individual bags of pretzels or chips, Pirate’s Booty, popcorn balls or even fun trinkets like pencils, tattoos or stickers.
Think about alternatives to trick-or-treating.
There are plenty of places around town that host sensory-friendly fall and Halloween parties and activities. If it feels like Halloween night may be too much, consider one of these alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating. Some kids will be very content to be at home watching trick-or-treaters come to the door with their parents. Have conversations with your child about what to expect that night. Remember, you can always give it a try, and if it’s just not working, that’s OK, too. Have a back-up plan at home just in case you head out the door and quickly realize it’s time to head back home. Sometimes, Plan B ends up better than we ever could have imagined.