OCTOBER 16, 2023
Halloween Tips for Parents of Sensory Kids
There are many things that parents can do to make Halloween enjoyable for your sensory sensitive children as well. Follow these helpful tips and be on your way to a fun and safe Halloween for you and your sensory sensitive child.
Costume Tips for Sensory Sensitive Children
For some children, Halloween can be the most wonderful time of the year! Dressing up as their favorite character and trapsing through the neighborhood loading up on bags full of candy and other sugary treats would thrill most children. Halloween might also include pumpkin carving, haunted houses, and school parties. It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year!
But, for children with sensory processing disorder, the thought of Halloween can be overwhelming and scary. The sights and sounds that a neuro-typical child might find exciting and fun might overload the senses of a sensory sensitive child. There are many things that parents can do to make Halloween enjoyable for your sensory sensitive children as well. Follow these helpful tips and be on your way to a fun and safe Halloween for you and your sensory sensitive child.
Try it Before You Buy It
Tempting as it is these days to buy things online, you might want to avoid this convenience when it comes to Halloween costumes. It’s important to take your child to the store with you and let them touch and feel the costumes before they select one. Is it too scratchy? Too slippery? Fit too tightly or loosely? Have a weird texture that might become uncomfortable or overwhelming? Try visiting a costume store that will let your child try the costumes before you buy them. This will allow you to anticipate any potential problems your child might have with any aspect of the costume and steer them in another direction if it seems like it will be too much.
The same should be said for any mask that your child might want to wear with or in place of a costume. Some children might not like how a mask feels when wearing it for a long period of time. Noise may also sound differently, either being muffled or amplified, which may be overwhelming or uncomfortable.
Practice, Practice, Practice
It might sound silly to practice wearing a Halloween costume, but this is important advice. Once you bring your costume home, let you child wear it around the house several times for lengthy periods of time. This will help to diagnose any issues that your child may discover. Depending on the issue you might be able to come up with a solution, or worse case scenario, you’ll have time to exchange it before the big day.
Does your child plan to wear face paint as part of their costume? This is another piece that helps to practice. Paint up their face a few times before wearing the costume to help them get used to the feel of having face paint. As a just in case, bring along some baby wipes while trick-or-treating. If the paint becomes too much, you can always take it off to make them more comfortable.
Create Your Own Comfort
Your child might experience costume success with some favorites worn underneath their costume to buffer against anything too scratchy or uncomfortable. Some parents will have children wear their pajamas under their costume, which also makes things convenient for an easy transition to bed after the trick-or-treating fun. We recommend SmartKnitKIDS Seamless Compresso-T or Seamless Arm Sleeves to provide comfort, as well as calming, deep pressure input. Wearing the Compresso-T might help your child to regulate their senses, helping them to have a more enjoyable Halloween.
No Costume, No Problem
You may try all the tips above to have a costume that your child can wear comfortably, and it’s possible that you still don’t have something that works. That’s okay! Relax and be okay with that. Reassure your child that he or she can still participate in the Halloween fun without a costume. The most important thing is that your child is comfortable and having fun. Everything else is just extra.
Tips for Halloween Night
There are several things that you can do to prepare your child for Halloween. Firstly, expose them to it early and often. As soon as the big box stores start putting out Halloween decorations, bring your child around for a shopping visit. Let them push buttons to hear the noises and the flashing lights. Reassure them that everything is just fun and pretend.
Another way to help your child be prepared for Halloween is to create a timeline of events and go over it with them ahead of time. Knowing what to expect will help them to feel more assured and comfortable. Map out a trick-or-treat route ahead of time, and practice going house to house to help your child be familiar with the territory.
Create a Refuge
Sometimes even the best laid plans are not enough to keep the anxieties at bay. Use a code word or signal that your child can use to let you know when they are feeling overwhelmed. It will help you to navigate the situation early. Another idea is to give your child their own personal retreat from the crowd. This might be as simple as a wagon they can ride in through the neighborhood. They can use it as a personal safe space to retreat to and regulate their senses.
You may also want to plan to trick-or-treat early in the evening before it gets too dark. Things tend to be a little tamer during the early hours of the evening. Visit houses of people you know well and who know your child. They’ll get a sense of comfort from places they’re familiar with. Also, bring a flashlight. If things get a little too dark and scary, a comforting light might help your child to feel calmer.
Have a Backup Plan
It’s always good to have a fun back up plan for your child. Trunk-or-treats are a great way for children to participate in Halloween without anything too scary or overwhelming. Check out the local churches and schools in your area. There are usually several trunk-or-treats throughout the month.
Spend Halloween night creating pumpkin art. Instead of carving out the slimy pumpkin insides, let your child’s creativity take over with paint or markers.
If trick-or-treating is just not in the cards, create a new tradition they may enjoy. Set up Halloween in your driveway with a warm and comforting fire pit and Halloween movies that your child likes to watch. They can put on their Halloween best (costume if they’re comfortable, or favorite pumpkin t-shirt) and help hand out candy to the other trick-or-treaters. Let your child choose some candy for themselves from the store so they won’t miss out on their favorite sweet treats!
Halloween should be a fun time for all who want to participate. Hopefully, these tips will help you to create a fun, sensory-safe holiday for your family.