Creating a Sensory Smart Halloween

Goblins, ghosts and ghouls are in no short supply come October 31 each year. Lots of kids find dressing up a big treat, but for some kids with autism, it’s more of a trick than a treat!

Autism Florida President, Stacey Hoaglund shares her tips to prepare for the Halloween Season

If you’ve got a child who has sensory defensiveness even when you try to dress him for school, Halloween might be a little “trickier” than you think. Parties, make-up, costumes and sugar-laden treats can throw the sensory-sensitive child into overload, and Halloween into a horrifying time in more ways than one.

How can you make Halloween more sensory friendly for your child? Costumes, Masks and Make-up are generally the epitome of Halloween fun, but can also be the most challenging to tolerate. Polyester or wool material on the skin can leave your child wanting to strip down in the middle of the street. Wigs, make-up and masks can make some kids feel as though they can’t even breathe.

What to do?:
For the costume itself:
• Involve your child as much as possible in the choice. Have him feel the material against his skin before he actually puts it on. Don’t forget to have him try on the costume BEFORE leaving the costume store. If you’re handy and making the costume at home, consider using clothing of soft cotton, like previously worn t-shirts and sweatpants. From there you can add elements and props that make the costume special; like adding fabric paint to the comfy material, carrying a light-saber or broom meant for riding. Sweat Treats
• Kids who are sensitive to what they wear on their skin are oftentimes just as sensitive to what they put in their bellies. Treats loaded with sugar and artificial colors and flavors can have negative effects that last for hours. From rashes, to tummy aches, to sleepless nights, candy can have an effect that’s more than you’re bargaining for, especially on such a busy school night.
• Let the kids gather their loot of candy and Halloween goodies so that they can take part in the exciting festivities, which by the way can be filled with fabulous social encounters. When you get home, ship the kids off to bath time while you, a spouse or other loved one comb through the collection to pick out what seems acceptable. If your child’s on a special diet, have a plethora of pre-chosen goodies and trinkets that you can swap out as quick as you can say “Trick or Treat.”

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