Halloween with an Autistic Child

Once again, Halloween is here. As a child, I remember the excitement I had in picking out a costume, wearing it to school and out, trick-or-treating. As an adult, the stress of coming up with a “good” costume and going to spooky parties contributed to my dislike for this tradition. It just wasn’t me. After my children were born, these memories of my own childhood gave me a new found excitement for the holiday.

My son, born first, generated such excitement in seeing my little guy dressed up in such cuteness. The first year, he was a pea, second year – a greaser, third year – cowboy (no hat), fourth year – caveman, fifth year – Dracula, sixth year – red crayon. I bet you can’t guess what the common denominator in all of these costumes is? Aside from the pea costume (as a baby and still unaware of his autism), these costumes have been well thought out, painfully prepared outfits, “autistically accommodating”. Here, I thought I was over stressing out about Halloween because of my own road blocks with the holiday. Believe me, there is no greater pressure than that of trying to create the near impossible. But the near impossible is what occurs when my child’s self esteem and feeling of acceptance is on the line.Wondering what “autistically accommodating” means?

To begin with, there are the texture sensitivities my son endures. There cannot be any scratchy material, no tags, and no stiffness. Have you looked at what the stores offer? You got it…scratchy, tags, stiffness. That leaves out all store bought costumes. Next, we cannot choose a costume that has a mask, hat, or head garnish. Are you wondering what else there is? Yes, me too…every year! Finally, after much deliberation, we come up with a costume that satisfies our “prince”, but we continue to be on pins and needles until the actual moment he will wear it. Why, you ask? Because my son is a creature of familiarity and routine. The 1 or 2 times, he will actually have to dress up in his costume is filled with anxiety (for all of us). As the date nears, I usually talk incessantly about the costume and even try to have a dress rehearsal (usually unsuccessful).

The day finally arrives and it is up in the air as to whether or not “the costume” will be worn. At this point, I’m pretty much done with this whole holiday and just want to put it behind me and begin next year’s search. I put on my best cheerleading face and put forth my best methods of encouragement as the day unfolds. Amazingly enough, every year my son pulls through, rises to this challenge and enjoys himself.

motheringautism on Twitter
Pam Walsh
Words of personal experience, opinion, and lessons learned about mothering a child on the spectrum with autism, his younger sister, marriage, finances, and seeking out a sense of self.
Pam Walsh

motheringautism

Words of personal experience, opinion, and lessons learned about mothering a child on the spectrum with autism, his younger sister, marriage, finances, and seeking out a sense of self.

0 thoughts on “Halloween with an Autistic Child

  • February 27, 2011 at 7:18 pm
    Permalink

    Maybe Halloween goes well every year because that’s how it went the first couple times, so he had to keep routine.

    Reply
  • February 27, 2011 at 7:17 pm
    Permalink

    I can’t stop laughing at the thought of a pea costume.

    Reply
  • October 16, 2010 at 9:36 pm
    Permalink

    I read because I have an autistic cousin who I love dearly. I understand the routine feeling, while reading though this popped into my head. Depending on his age, you could slowly adjust the daily norm with time for play dress up, which may help with the anxiety problem come Halloween. Just an idea though. I hope that no matter what he enjoys the holiday experiences. :]

    Reply
  • October 16, 2010 at 11:43 am
    Permalink

    Michael has always really enjoyed Halloween.  He’s been picking out his own costumes since he was about 3, and it alwasy a great time for him.  Jacob, OTOH… completely different.  He 7 now and and still never picked out a costume.  And there are years that he won’t even go trick or treating with us.  It’s sad, seeing him prefer stay at home, but I don’t want to force him and risk putting him off it for good.  He usually goes with us no, past couple years anyway, and enjoys it, but we’re still picking out his costume for him – trying to find a simple one that doesn’t freak him out, or have texture/sensory issues with it.  He was a racecar driver last year.  He liked that (REALLY into Cars) and it was a simple enough costume. (No helmet.) But it’s always a challenge with him.

    BTW.. OT, but I did a comic a long while back about Halloween with Michael. It doesn’t exactly relate to what you’re talking about here, but I though you might enjoy it: http://otscomic.blogspot.com/2009/08/on-spectrum-15-16.html

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.