As summer turns into fall, our favorite holidays approach. For kids with sensory processing, motor or speech difficulties, holidays can present a unique challenge and Halloween is no exception. Other children in costumes may be unpredictable or loud, the change in routine may disrupt sleep routines and challenge self-regulation, saying “trick or treat!” or answering strangers’ questions may be a source of nervousness or stress and costumes may be itchy or uncomfortable. Here are a few tips and tricks to make this Halloween a successful one:Prepare your child for trick-or-treating by watching kid-friendly movies that show how this holiday pastime works. Suggestions include “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!” and “Casper.”
- Prepare your child for trick-or-treating by watching kid-friendly movies that show how this holiday pastime works. Suggestions include “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!” and “Casper.”
- Practice trick-or-treating in the safety of your home or at daycare before venturing out into the neighborhood at night.
- Choose a costume with your child’s sensory, speech or motor challenges in mind. Avoid scratchy or itchy fabrics and be aware that masks may make it difficult to navigate streets and sidewalks safely. Allow your child to try the costume on before the special night in order to work out any issues with fit or comfort.
- Keep routines as consistent as possible. Go trick-or-treating right after dinner and try to be in bed as close to the usual time as possible.
- Create a neighborhood map to add some predictability to a potentially unpredictable experience.
- Create a social story to prepare your child for the events, safety rules and social expectations of trick-or-treating. An example can be found at: http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_trick_or_treating.html.
- For children who are non-verbal, consider carrying a card to help them express themselves and participate more actively in trick-or-treating. For example,
Trick or Treat!
Hello, my name is _______________ and I’m not yet able to say “Trick or Treat” or “Happy Halloween,” but I’m trying. Thanks for understanding and
For more ideas on how to maximize your child’s successful participation this Halloween, feel free to ask your speech or occupational therapist. We look forward to celebrating the holidays with you and your child!
Tips and tricks were adapted from Lisa Ackerman’s article at TACA.org.