Even though Halloween is the holiday that children sometimes have the most fun with, it can be scary for children with autism. Their hyper-sensitivity to visual cues, sounds, and even smells can make Halloween more of a nightmare for them than it is any fun. Parents who plan ahead for this holiday may find that their children get more pleasure out of it. In turn, they too can relax and enjoy the Halloween season. Keeping special needs in mind, parents can make Halloween a new kind of fun for their children.
Host your own Halloween party. For some, the easiest way to help children with autism to enjoy Halloween is by hosting a Halloween party aimed especially at other autistic children and loved ones who understand the nature of autism.
Trick or treat with family only. Even trick or treat at school can be scary for children with autism. The sight of some of the costumes alone can leave them reeling with fear. Add to this the change in schedule and the various spooky sounds and you have a recipe for disaster. Your family will most likely be more understanding about the issue and take steps to help you and your child make the most of Halloween.
Do your best to use the interests of the child. If your child is interest in specific characters or toys, now is the time for them to really enjoy that interest. It may also be a gateway to help you to develop understanding in your child of why other children are dressed in costumes.
Limit the decorations. You probably know better than anyone how sensitive your child is. Be mindful of this when you put out your Halloween decorations. Too many lights or sounds can be agitating to those without autism, but those who do have autism may find these things to be physically painful.
Skip Halloween altogether. Let's face it; Halloween isn't exactly the most important holiday there is. If it causes your child more anxiety than pleasure, it might be a good idea to skip it altogether. You are not really losing any kind of spiritual bonding moments, and your child will probably appreciate the lack of anxiety that the holiday can cause.
Halloween has evolved into what is a fun holiday for most children, but my experience with autism tells me that the world really is about your own personal perception. Since these children have a perception that is based on heightened senses, why not help them to see the world in a more friendly way on Halloween?
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