Fall activities are in full swing, which means it’s time for choosing costumes, trick-or-treating, enjoying treats, and attending Halloween parties. There are a few tips to keep in mind to help plan ahead for social, communication and sensory difficulties that may occur during this season. The Warren Center, a nonprofit agency providing professional evaluations, therapy services, and support to children with developmental delays and disabilities, shares tips to help children with sensory challenges have fun this fall.
Tip #1 Show photos of family members in costumes
To help prepare your child for Halloween, show them photos of family members dressed up in costumes. This is a great opportunity to explain your family’s Halloween traditions and activities with your child. Some Halloween traditions and activities conflict with common rules, including not taking candy from strangers. It is important to discuss rules and boundaries with your child to help them better understand the holiday. If your child is experiencing communication delays, visuals still help them prepare for the big day.
Tip #2 Pretend to play with different costumes
Another fun way to prepare your child for Halloween is to pretend play by dressing up in different costumes. This can help your child become comfortable with wearing a costume. To help your child feel more comfortable in a costume, pay close attention to the material and fit to ensure it is not too long, loose, tight, scratchy or stiff. Sometimes pretend play with costumes may initially be overwhelming to your child. If this is the case, try incremental exposure to the costume. Allow your child to see and feel the material and work your way up to playing dress-up. If your child has a facial, sensitivity avoid face paint, makeup, and masks.
Tip #3 Modify Halloween games to meet your child’s needs
You can help your child participate in Halloween parties by modifying the games or activities to meet your child’s needs. One idea is to have your child decorate a pumpkin with stickers or paint instead of carving a pumpkin. For school Halloween parties, you can discuss different ways to modify games or activities with the child’s teacher.
Tip #4 Stay in familiar areas if you go trick-or-treating
When trick-or-treating, remember to say in familiar areas that are close to home. Consider visiting only the homes of your friends and family members to help your child feel comfortable. Also be mindful of houses with loud noises, lights, and spooky decorations. Practicing how to trick or treat with your child can also be helpful, including walking up to the door, saying the phrase “trick or treat”, putting the treat in the bag and saying, “thank you”.
There are many sensory-friendly ways to celebrate Halloween with your child whether you decide to watch a movie or make a Halloween treat — it’s important that you choose an activity that is best suited for your child’s needs.
The Warren Center is a nonprofit agency providing professional evaluations, therapy services, and support to children with developmental delays and disabilities. The center serves over 1,000 children each week as well as their families. Services include speech, occupational and physical therapy; developmental services; and nutrition as well as family education and support. The Early Childhood Intervention Program serves the entire northern half of Dallas County in 48 ZIP codes. Founded in 1968, 2018 marked The Warren Center’s 50th anniversary. For more information, please visit https://www.thewarrencenter.org or follow The Warren Center on Facebook and Twitter.