Tips to Make Halloween Fun for Children with Sensory Issues
Halloween. It's a day filled with costumes, candy, and fun activities. For most kids, Halloween is one of the best days of the year, but as we know, for children who are sensory sensitive, All Hallow's Eve can be a nightmare.
In fact, this harrowing holiday is a factor in why October 25-31 is National Sensory Awareness Week. However, with a few simple tricks Halloween can for fun for sensitive kids too.
Here some tips to ensure your sensitive child can enjoy this fun, candy-filled day just like their friends.
Tip #1: Careful Planning Goes a Long Way
Prepare a schedule of events for the day in advance, using either words or pictures, if your child is still too young or cannot read. In fact, even if your child can read using social stories with pictures can help visualize it ahead of time. Make an effort to go over the schedule daily so your child can become familiar and comfortable with the upcoming day's events. Warn your child of any parts of the day that may include large crowds or loud noise. Knowing what to expect goes a long way in calming anxieties.
Tip#2: Play and Read All About It
There are countless children's picture books depicting their favorite fictional character embarking on trick-or-treat and other Halloween adventures. Find books featuring your child's favorite characters or animals in a Halloween story and read them daily until Halloween. You can also use play time as prep time as well. Use some of your child's favorite toys to create a story depicting Halloween events.
Tip#3: Test Costumes Beforehand
As the Brain Balance Program points out, many Halloween costumes are made of scratchy material that is hard for sensitive children to handle. It’s very important to plan out and test your child's costume before the big day. Consider constructing a homemade costume for your child, using their own clothing as part of the get-up. You can also purchase sensory sensitive costumes like our weighted vests, which include policeman, fireman, and princess designs. If you want to get super-creative, you can also decorate some of our other weighted vests or use a weighted sash as part of your child's costume. Once you've created your child's costume, have your child try it on and wear it around your home for a few hours to make sure they will feel comfortable in it on Halloween.
Tip#4: Map Out Quiet Places
While you're planning out your family's Halloween schedule, be sure to scope out the places you'll be visiting to find quiet areas to take your child in case they become overwhelmed and need to re-group. If you plan to go trick-or-treating, you might want to stay away from the busiest neighborhoods, instead go for quieter streets or stick to trick-or-treating at the homes of relatives and close friends who understand your child's needs. If you choose the route of trick-or-treating only at the homes of family and friends, you have the option to ask them to include sugar-free or all-natural candy or treats for your child.
Tip#5: Keep Alternative Treats On Hand
We all know that sugar can make any kid hyper, but excessive amounts can be especially detrimental to sensory sensitive children. To prevent sugar-overload or your child from being able to enjoy treats, bring alternative treats like sugar-free candy or all-natural snacks to place in their trick-or-treat bag. If your child does receive a lot of sugary candy, allow him or her to have a piece, then hide the rest in a child-proof cabinet or drawer to distribute throughout the year as a reward.
Tip#6: Plan Sensory-Sensitive Activities
For some kids, touching the insides of pumpkins or fake blood is more terrifying than scary monster costumes. Make sure there are activities like painting or placing stickers on pumpkins or roasting pumpkin seeds that they will enjoy instead.
Halloween is meant to be a fun day for everyone of all ages. It should be a great day for sensory-sensitive and other special needs children, as well. We hope that by using these great tips, your child and family will enjoy many great Halloweens to come.
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