If you have been out to stores or have been browsing online, you noticed that Halloween decor and costumes have been for sale for quite some time now. For those of you who celebrate Halloween, that means the search for a costume your child likes, wants, and will wear is on! Prepping for Halloween doesn’t have to be difficult. Let us help you prep for Halloween with ideas, costumes, tips, and much more!
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What if you have a child with autism? How do you find a costume they like, want, and will wear? You might ask yourself questions like, “when should I start prepping for Halloween?“, “When should my child practice wearing the costume and keeping it on?”, “How can we safely trick-or-treat?”, and are there any COVID-19 guidelines that we need to follow?” Oh, and don’t forget about questions about prepping for what they may see and hear on Halloween night!
Finding a Costume
To begin with, you should consider all kinds of factors when looking for a costume for your child. What do they like? Are there any sensory processing concerns? Can they wear their costume for an extended period of time? What will the weather be like, especially in South Florida?
This is where, as a parent, you may need to compromise a bit. So, maybe, instead of the batman or princess costume, your child can dress up with elements of the costume they can tolerate. For example, they can wear a batman or princess t-shirt instead of the traditional “full costume” we may be used to seeing for Halloween. This still allows your child to dress up and participate but adds a feeling of comfort.
Here are some options for costumes and accessories to help you in your search. There are tons, though, so look around and find something that works!
Finding a Trick-or-Treat Bag
I remember using a pillowcase when trick-or-treating as I got older. It seemed like such a good idea, at the time. Just wait until it starts to fill up and you quickly realize it was not such a great idea after all!
Consider your child’s strength and motor skills in your search for a trick-or-treating bag. Look for ones that are comfortable to carry and won’t hurt their hands or shoulder. You may want to find one for yourself to have your child transfer some of their treats to your bag. This way, their bag doesn’t get too heavy for them to carry and it is a more positive experience.
Check out some of these options:
Wearing the Costume and Trick-or-Treating
Think about any time you put something on—an item of clothing—that you found itchy, or tight, or just uncomfortable. This can be what a child with autism feels when wearing a costume. Costumes, often, are made of materials that can be very uncomfortable to wear.
When you find the costume for your child, start practicing putting on the costume and wearing it.
Check out this schedule for October 2021:
Week of October 4
- Talk about Halloween and costumes at a level that makes sense for your child.
- Check our Halloween social story!
- Look at the costume and allow your child to touch it and explore it.
- Start to practice putting it on. This can especially be helpful for costumes that have a lot of zippers or ties or pieces to them.
Week of October 11
- Continue to talk about Halloween and wearing the costume.
- Put the costume on your child or help them put it on.
- Play a game to keep the costume on and increase the time a little bit each day. For example, 2 minutes the first day and 3 or minutes the next day. Tie it to a reinforcer, or something they like, they can have after they have been able to keep it on. Token boards and timers can be helpful. Take a look at these:
Week of October 18
- Continue talking about Halloween and costumes but add trick-or-treating.
- Check out our social story to help you out!
- Practice trick-or-treating at home! Close any of the doors in your house. Have one family member inside the room where the door is closed and have the other family member walk around and help your child. Teach your child to go up to the door, knock, wait for the door to open, say “trick-or-treat”, and take the candy. Remember to teach saying “thank you”.
- Practice throughout the week.
Week of October 25
- This is it! Just a few days before Halloween.
- Keep talking about Halloween, costumes, trick-or-treating, and add safety.
- Practice safety commands and skills in your home. For example, “wait”, “stop”, “come here”. Knowing your child will respond when out and about on Halloween can bring some peace of mind. We teach these skills inside for safety and then can slowly transition to practicing in other areas and with more distractions.
- Keep practicing wearing that costume longer.
- Plan your trick-or-treat route.
COVID-19 Guidelines (if any in your area)
Check to see if there are any COVID-19 guidelines in your area before heading out. Even if there aren’t any guidelines, but you want to practice some COVID-19 precautions, plan ahead to build them into your practice schedule. You can look for masks that match the costume or are a part of the costume.
Get out and have fun! If you need more help prepping for this night, let us help you.
Disclaimer: The information and content in this blog and any links and materials are not intended to be and should not be construed or substituted as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician and or other qualified healthcare professionals with any questions you may have.