Celebrating Halloween With Kids With Autism

Tips for enjoying the holiday with a child who has autism.

For most kids, Halloween is all about trick-or-treating: dressing up in costumes, enjoying the spooky sights and sounds and getting free candy. It’s tough to beat! Still, celebrating the fan-fave holiday with a child who has autism can bring with it some unique challenges — but also opportunities to get creative. Children with autism can have sensory sensitivities or trouble communicating, making the beloved trick-or-treating rituals, well, tricky. But with a few simple-to-follow tips courtesy of autism advocacy group Autism Speaks, your child can participate in the Halloween festivities, too.

Tell Them What to Expect

Especially if it’s their first time trick-or-treating, be sure that your kid knows what to expect — scary costumes, loud noises and bright lights to name a few. Autism Speaks even has a downloadable personalized teaching story that will help you break things down. You may even want to bring along a sensory toy, headphones or earplugs.

Make Your Little One a Badge

Before heading out for trick-or-treating, consider making a badge and pinning it to their costume to let neighbors know that they may communicate a little differently than other children. Write something like, “Hello! I have autism. I may not say ‘trick or treat.'” If you’re handing out candy, let little visitors and parents know that yours is an autism-friendly home.

Choose a Costume Carefully

You’ll want to keep your little one’s sensory needs in mind when choosing a costume. Have them try it on a few times before Halloween to make sure it’s comfortable, doesn’t smell weird, isn’t itchy or won’t otherwise be difficult. Encourage them to dress up as their favorite character. You may even want to buy it a little big so they can wear their own clothes underneath.

Paris Giles loves a good creepy podcast before bed. She’s a frequent contributor to this magazine and is a beauty and wellness writer at Bustle. Follow her on Instagram @parisgiles_.

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