Having a Sensory Friendly Halloween

For most kids, Halloween is a fun holiday filled with a chance to dress up and get lots of candy and other fun treats. For a child with sensory issues, Halloween can be a challenge — scary and very overstimulating. However, just because your child has sensory sensitivities, it does not mean that she cannot participate in the Halloween festivities.

Though it takes some planning, you can help your child have a fun and enjoyable experience by:

Making/choosing a sensory friendly costume. Finding a comfortable costume is a must. Try her costume on beforehand so you can deal with any issues. A good fit (not too loose or too tight) and a soft, comfortable material is important . Masks and face paint may be issues as well. By doing a trial run, you can be prepared on Halloween night.

ALSO SEE: Sensory Friendly Costumes

Preparing your child for the events of the day/night. Including her in your family’s Halloween plans provides her with prior knowledge of what to expect. Talk with her about some of the things she may need to know, and create a “safe” word that she can use if she needs a break.

Researching and planning your route. Choosing a destination that is familiar to your child will be helpful. Whether it is your neighborhood or her school or church, the more she knows about the location, the more comfortable she will be. If you choose a place away from home, research the activities. If it is a scheduled event, such as at a school or church, call and ask for details such as planned noises or lighting effects that may scare or overstimulate her. Most malls provide store-to-store trick-or-treating that is well lit and “young child friendly,” meaning there should be no scary elements.

Allowing extra time. Most kids try to make the most of their Halloween time by running from house to house as fast as possible. Children with sensory processing disorders or sensitivities may need extra time to process their environment. Plan some extra time into your schedule so she does not feel rushed, which can lead to overstimulation.

Being extra observant of your child’s behavior. You know your child best, so you can be on the lookout for signs of stress and sensory overload. Be prepared to cut the evening short if it becomes too much, and/or provide a “safe spot” where she can get away from her surroundings for a moment. If possible, be preemptive. For example, if she is overly sensitive to noise, bring sound reducing headphones or ear plugs.

Sources: HartleysBoys.blogspot.com | EasterSeals.com | PediaStaff.com

Sensory Friendly Halloween
Shandy Marso, Contributor

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