Making Halloween a Joy for All

« Back to BlogBy Carol Gerber

Two more days and the fun begins! What fun you might ask? Halloween, of course!

October 31st is an exciting holiday for kids, but it may offer particular challenges for children with anxiety, autism, sensory and emotional disabilities. With the right planning, preparation and consideration the night of spooks & thrills can be a fun night for everyone. We gathered some tips and tricks (no pun intended) to make this Halloween enjoyable for all!

Planning and preparation just a few days before the big day can significantly reduce a child’s anxiety. Here are a few ways to prepare your child:

1.  We must start out with the most important part! Drum roll please …. the costume! While it’s fun to dress up as our favorite characters and heroes, some kids may be sensitive to the look and feel of costumes.

If this is the case, once your child has picked out their costume, throughout the next few days help them get adjusted by:

  • Running through the process of putting their costume on and spending a short amount of time being dressed up. Once their comfort levels begin to shift try to gradually increase the time intervals in costume.
  • This will help them adapt, and allow you to address their discomfort. Don’t be afraid to use your creativity to alter the look to their contentment, and let your child help!

For example: If they have chosen a character that requires a mask, and they are having a hard time seeing in it, maybe opt for face painting. That way they are able to have full use of their peripheral vision.

2.  Draw out a map of where you will be going, and how you are going to get there. Give your child a visual glance at the events before they take place.

3.  You know that old saying – Practice makes perfect? Well it turns out, it’s true! Practice knocking/ringing at your neighbors’ doors. Check in with your closest neighbors and see if they wouldn’t mind helping you and your child get accustomed to the act of Halloween.

4.  Talk with and prepare your child for what they might see and hear. Be sure to calmly explain to them how you are going to handle a fright-filled situation if one may arise. Your goal is to ease any fears you can foresee.

For instance: If your child is one that is afraid of fog machines, or moving figurines – show them that they are powered with batteries, and that they have control over what’s scaring them. Assure them that they are safe and that it is all fun and decoration. (This way of educating your children on how to behave with mechanical toys was given by CCC-SLP Karen Kabaki-Sisto. Feel free to visit Karen’s blog and get more information here.)

5.  Be proactive and evaluate the accessibility of the neighborhood you will be trick-or-treating in.

Ask yourself or check in with your local community to evaluate things like:

  • Do the street lamps work?
  • Are the sidewalks paved?
  • What will police patrol look like that evening?
  • Are there wheelchair ramps at the street corners?
  • Are there designated trick-or-treating hours?

6.  Be ready to assist/describe to your child with food allergies, diabetes, blindness or oral motor challenges what it is they need to look out for, and how to signal to you if they are unsure whether the treat they have picked out is safe for them.

7.  If your child is non-verbal – here is a handy sign that you can print out and attach to your child’s candy bag, bucket, or basket to help their trick-or-treating process! If your child is verbal, teach him or her to say “Trick or Treat!” and stress to them the oh so important phrase, “Thank you!”.

By following these tips, you are sure to have a spook-tacular Halloween that will bring you and your loved ones joy and happiness! Happy Trick-or-Treating!


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