‘Tis the season for Fall festivals, class parties, fun costumes and trick or treating with friends and family! The air is filled with excited chatter and yummy smells. Streets are lined with lights, pumpkins, and friendly or spooky sights! It is a fun time of year for families, but the Fall/Halloween season can also bring its fair share of hurdles: changes in routine, potential for overwhelming sensory and social scenarios… No need to panic! Here are a few tips to help prepare your family for a fun start to the season, no matter your child’s unique needs:
-Read a social story with your child to prepare them for what to expect during events that may take place during trick or treating, pumpkin patch, school parties, or holiday parties.
-Let your child help select their costume and practice wearing it during play at home to check for any aversions to tags, textures, etc.
-When heading to Halloween parties or trick or treating, bring along any sensory tools that may help your child throughout the evening- such as noise reducing headphones, fidgets, weighted/compression vest, cold water.
-Try trick or treating earlier in the evening before it becomes too overwhelming and before they’re overly tired from the day.
-Listen to your child and know their limits. If they are becoming overstimulated, it is okay to end the evening and head home for some Halloween fun in their most familiar environment! It is okay to take breaks while enjoying fall festivities! Have a plan for where/how to best help your child. You are their safe space!
-Try a sensory regulating activity before trick or treating and after and before they go to bed. (brushing, joint compressions, heavy work, swinging or trampoline). You can ask your OT for some good ideas, too!
-Carry along a blue trick or treat bucket to help bring awareness to your child’s sensory/communication needs. A blue trick or treat bucket is the unofficial method of notating that a child may be neurodivergent, and help others around them know how to best help them engage in the Halloween fun!
Free social stories for trick or treating, carving pumpkins, etc.
Halloween themed fidgets
-Mary Kate Galloway, OTR/L