Halloween is a favorite holiday that only seems to be growing in popularity – where we live, it seems like just as many people decorate their homes for Halloween as for Christmas! But when you have a child with special needs, all the jumps and scares of October 31 can be more than a little overwhelming. If you’re worried about how your little one will handle trick-or-treating, or if you’ve had tough Halloweens in years past, here are a few tips that will hopefully make this holiday all “treat” and no “trick.”
When selecting or making a costume for your child, consider their comfort and safety above all else. A lot of very cute costumes aren’t well made and use rough Velcro, poorly fitted elastic, sharp plastic, and/or cheap fabrics. If you have the time, consider putting together a costume out of clothes or fabrics that you already know your child likes. A scratchy tag or uncomfortable hat can make the anxiety of Halloween that much worse for a child with special needs.
Likewise, try to avoid costumes that use masks and dark colors. The brighter the costume, the safer your child will be while you walk around with them in your neighborhood. Maybe your little one would make a darling bumble bee or a beautiful, bright jack-o-lantern.
If you decide to trick-or-treat around your neighborhood, there are a few different things that you can do to make the experience more enjoyable. First, go before dark. Crowds will be less intense, scary decorations will seem a lot less scary, and homeowners will be a lot more relaxed and accommodating.
You should also consider going out with at least one other adult and one other child, if possible. that way the other adult and child can approach doors first so that if anyone answers the door in a particularly frightening costume, or if they have a decoration that makes a scary noise, you’ll have a heads up and can skip that house or appropriately prepare your child for the experience.
You might also want to consider practicing the route with your child earlier in the week if you don’t go for walks often. And be aware that they may be perfectly happy going to just four or five houses to get the experience, especially if you have other activities planned at home.
Tips for Trick-or-Treating Alternatives
While the idea of not trick-or-treating may have broken your heart as a child, recognize that your own child may feel differently. He or she might have just as much fun enjoying an alternative Halloween experience.
For example, a lot of local libraries put on afternoon events on Halloween with craft making, carnival games, and story time. A special Halloween activity at the library or your local community center could be the perfect way to celebrate in a controlled, well-lit environment.
You could also consider putting on your own Halloween party with family members, friends from your neighborhood, or parents and kids from your child’s daycare or classroom, if they are old enough. This is obviously the option that takes the most work, but it also lets you control the environment and create an experience tailored to the needs of your child. Check out this blog for great tips on art projects that your child and his or her friends can enjoy together this Halloween.
For more tips specific to the unique needs of your child, feel free to give our office a call. We offer speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy in Chicago for all sorts of wonderful kids. We’d be happy to tell you more about what we do or answer any questions you may have.