Therapy room at Lighthouse Autism Center with toys on a table with blue chairs and book shelves above

Celebrating Halloween with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Tips for Celebrating Halloween with a Child on the Autism Spectrum

1.) The Costume

Let your child pick out a costume that works for them. If they love soft things, try a fuzzy costume onesie, if they love dinosaurs, let them be a T-rex. Whatever it is that gets your child excited, channel that into a costume! Let your child practice wearing the costume at home to allow them to get used to it.

2.) What to Expect

Make sure your child knows what to expect. Talk about the trick or treating and exactly what your child should expect. Tell them several times in advance. Consider creating a visual schedule or countdown to the big day! Create a visual to show them or read them books about trick or treating to get them more familiarized with the process. If your child is overwhelmed with change, consider introducing activities and Halloween decorations gradually.

3.) Practice

Help your child practice for the big day by practicing putting on their costume and going through the routine of the day. Enlist the help of a neighbor or friend and have your child practice trick or treating in a familiar environment. Use role play to practice receiving and giving treats.

4.) Trick or Treat Alternatives

If your child does not enjoy trick or treating, or if you are choosing to stay home due to Covid-19 related reasons, consider other alternatives. Take them to other Halloween-related activities in the community or consider a “not-so-scary” night in with their favorite movie and treat.

5.) Have Fun!

Halloween looks different for every child on the autism spectrum and you know your child best. Use your best judgement and if you only stop at a few houses, that’s still a big win! Keep trick or treating short and comfortable if needed. Consider letting siblings (that might want to go longer) go trick or treating with a family member or friend. Whatever you choose to do and however you do it, remember to be flexible, do what is best for your child and family, and have fun! 

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Here are some additional links to tips on safety during Halloween:

Tips for Passing Out Candy at Home

Although awareness around autism spectrum disorder is growing, there may still be some households who do not have experience with children on the autism spectrum. Here are a few quick tips that you can share with your friends and family within your community to help support children with autism who may be out trick or treating.

Because of this broad spectrum disorder, autism looks much different in every child.

  • For the child who does not say trick or treat, please or thank you:  They may be nonverbal or have delayed speech.
  • For the child who take more than one piece of candy at a time:  They may have poor fine motor skills.
  • For the child who looks at your candy and appears disappointed:  They may have allergies.
  • For those that don’t like the flashing lights:  They may be prone to seizures or be overstimulated by lights or sudden movements.
  • For the child who is not wearing a costume: They might have sensory processing disorder and wearing a costume may be too overstimulating.
  • For the child who looks too old to be trick or treating: They may be developmentally delayed.

Please be patient, accepting and kind. Have non-food items available for children with allergies.

Tips to Make Halloween Allergy/Food Sensitivity Friendly

Some children may be unable to eat candy due to food allergies and/or other issues (e.g., oral motor challenges). It is, therefore, important to consider non-food treats for these children. The Food Allergy & Research Education organization launched the Teal Pumpkin Project, which raises awareness of food allergies, which the ultimate goal of helping all children feel more included during festivities. The organization encourages families to buy or paint a pumpkin teal (or simply print out a sign to post on the door) to let trick-or-treaters know that there are alternative snacks and goodies. For more information on the Teal Pumpkin Projects, please visit this link: Below are some ideas of some non-food treats:

  • Glow bracelets
  • Fidget items
  • Stickers
  • Mini notebooks
  • Action/Princess figurines

Learn more tips here:

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

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