Halloween Tips and Tricks

Halloween for Children on the Autism Spectrum

Tip 1 - Expose them to it early and often

Halloween is scary enough even for children without development delays, physical limitations, neurological disorders or other issues that cause them to be in part of the more than 6 million children who are labeled “special needs.” Getting an early start in explaining Halloween to special needs children can go a long way in ensuring a successful goblin night. As is often the case with special needs kids, repetition is key to helping the child better understand the event or holiday.


Tip 2 - Pick the right costume

Of course, picking a non-scary costume is key for getting your special needs child ready for Halloween. Try out the costumes and make sure they are a good fit. Have your child practice walking and sitting while wearing the costume. Take into consideration the weather at the end of October and what their favorite characters are. Avoiding popular costumes like vampires, witches, and warlocks is probably a good thing for most special needs children.  If your child is not wearing a costume make sure they know there is nothing wrong with them, some children would rather wear regular clothing and just wear a costume when they go out trick or treating. If your child is afraid of going around to houses that might appear scary at night seeing others dressed up in dark outfits and costumes, keep them home and hand out candy from the front yard or at the doorway. 

The child can wear the costume to go to neighboring houses and relatives where the environment is safe and familiar. Many children with autism have sensory issues so if they do not want to wear a costume at all, that's okay too!!!


Tip 3 - Avoid Scary Games and Activities

Halloween games are almost as popular as the act of trick or treating, often serving as the tailgate before the game. But games like bobbing for apples or swinging the apple on the stick can be difficult for special needs children to grasp and can prove to be dangerous as well.

For games in the classroom, make sure to talk to your child’s teacher to see if you agree it’s appropriate practice the game at home. Also, don’t pressure your child to participate in games at home or at parties you attend. Pumpkin carving and face painting can be fine for some children and daunting for others. As with most things with special needs children, it’s best to test these out on your child at home first, before trying at school or at a party.


Tip 4 - Try a New Tradition Like a Private Party

Did you know the act of knocking on doors and tricking or treating is actually on the decline? Many people are trying new traditions such as private parties where parents can control the environment and the type of candy and food their child receives.


Tip 5 – Do a Trial Run for Trick or Treating

If you want your child to experience trick or treating first-hand, remember, practice really does make perfect. Repetition of the route you will take for trick or treating will make it easier for child to grasp the act of trick or treating.

Keep in mind, it’s also not the quantity of house visited that is important, but instead the quality of the interactions for your child. Picking a few homes where you know the families can go a long way in making the actual act of tricking or treating enjoyable for your special needs child. Also, start trick of treating early and “before it gets dark,”


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