HOW TO CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN WITH AUSTISTIC CHILDREN

Children with autism vary in how profound their respective symptoms are. Every child is different, but many children with autism share the same characteristics. Also, it is not uncommon for children in the autism spectrum to have fixations on certain objects. For example, as a toddler, my son’s fixation was Hot Wheels. He would line them up along the edge of the kitchen counter; daily. This was done in a specific pattern and he immediately knew when a particular car was missing. Great behavior would add another car to his convoy. These fixations and actions bring children great joy and interest. So what may be an odd gift for a typical child may be a grand treasure for a child with autism. Case in point, my son’s current fixation is Legos and vacuums. It is not uncommon for him to request a new vacuum for his birthday or Christmas.

Image Courtesy – LearningWorksfoKids.com

Before Halloween: Tips for Kids with Autism

  • Create a visual story of what Halloween may be like for your child, with some pictures or drawings. This will help your child prepare for the day’s activities.
  • Try on costumes before Halloween. If the costume is uncomfortable or doesn’t fit right, it may cause unnecessary distress and ruin their fun.
  • If your child does not like their costume, don’t make them wear it. Instead, talk about the situation with your child and try to uncover the reason why they don’t like it. After you talk with your child, they may gradually get used to the costume. Have them wear it for short periods of time and at increasing intervals over time.
  • Consider a Halloween costume that fits over your child’s regular clothes, such as butterfly wings or capes.
  • Practice going to a neighbor’s door, ringing the bell or knocking on the door and receiving candy.

Halloween Day: Tips for Kids with ASD

  • Know your child’s limits and do only what he or she can handle. For example, if your child is not comfortable trick-or-treating, you can start by going to three houses. Assess how your child is doing and build up to more houses the following year.
  • Take your child to an activity in the community, such as a school festival or a neighborhood party where the child is already comfortable and knows people.
  • Partner with family and friends that your child likes.
  • If you are giving out candy at your home, give your child the option to give a piece of candy. During the day, practice greeting people and giving out candy.
  • If your child is afraid of going out at night, plan indoor or daytime Halloween activities.

Print this blog post and pin it on your bulletin board at home and feel free to share these tips with parents and caregivers for kids with autism spectrum disorders. Is carving a pumpkin part of your Halloween celebration? Here are tips on safe pumpkin carving from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Injury Prevention Program.

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