Helpful Halloween Hints for the Special Needs Child

In light of the Halloween season is upon us, I crept into the archives of the web known as past blog entries…. This entry is updated with new information and updated links……

We are flooded with decorations, excessive amounts of candy corn, and cute but uncomfortable costumes.  Many children with special needs, especially those with Autism DO NOT understand the concept of make believe, which is the whole premise of the Halloween Holiday.  However, that does not mean you, your child, or family can’t participate.   Luckily there are several things you can do with your special needs children that will help facilitate a successful Halloween.  Check out these hints below that are sure to bring Halloween happiness to everyone.

1. If your child has special sensory needs, has breathing tubes, in a wheelchair, or has other special needs, check out the many ideas for costumes that keep these things in mind.  Here are a few of my favorites…..

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Check out other great ideas for costumes here

2. For the safety of all involved, it is best for your child with special needs to NOT WEAR a mask that hides their face.

3. Enjoy the evening with friends and family.  Stay within your neighborhood, your church festival,  something at your child’s school or with family.  Night time holidays are not the best time to venture into new territories, with unfamiliar people and a child with special needs.

4. Be diligent in safety precautions.  Many special needs children are known as wanderers.  Due to the excitement, the candy, and all the commotion any child can quickly get away or in our case, get the urge to “bolt” in his own direction.

5. As a special needs parent being proactive in all situations is the key to survival…. Due to possible overstimulation, meltdowns, or other behaviors having a family member drive along with you while you trick or treat will
be helpful if a problem arises. If not trick or treating but attending a festival or other type of activity, I would recommend two adults per special needs child as a precaution.

6. If your special needs child is non verbal, is difficult to understand, or has difficulty communicating, the flyer below has been circulated on social media sites and is perfect for your child to distribute if able when trick or treating.

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7. Although Halloween is a traditional holiday, there is not a rule book to follow and even if there was, being a family with special needs nullifies all rule books as you well know!!! Discover what works for your family. You may choose to by-pass trick or treating all together and go to dinner as a family, dress up in costume and go to the movies or play put put….. Or you may decide to not go anywhere but stay home for popcorn and game night. Thats the great thing, its your family, your rules, your halloween!!!

8. If social stories (visual story) have been found to work for your child use one…. Here are several links to some prewritten links on Trick or Treating or you can always write your own..

9. If your child is accustom to using a visual schedule, a holiday excursion should be no different. Your child will expect to have the visuals to rely on. Failure to provide them will only increase their anxiety levels because of being out of their routine.

10. Meet the child on their level… If you have a special needs child who maybe physically too old to trick or treat then you may want to participate in activities such as the zoo, pumpkin patches, amusement parks etc where age limits do not matter. If your special needs child is afraid of the dark, has social anxieties, unpredictable behaviors or a restricted diet choosing to have a daytime party might work best. Invite friends, neighbors, family or classmates, it can be as intimate or as large as desired. Your guests can dress up, have special snacks, activities and possibly even photographs…

As a parent of a special needs child myself, I know first hand how difficult holidays can be. My hope is that you will be able to glean some valuable information from these hints, apply it to your situations and find success. Your ultimate goal for ANY holiday should always be to create happiness.

Happy Halloween my friends!!! I hope its a good one!!!

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