Thrive – October 2016 Issue (Part 1)
Last October we published an “Ask A is for Apple” piece about preparing for Halloween if your child has sensory issues.
This year we’d like to revisit the topic again, in greater detail. We want all our kids (and parents!) to have a great time this Halloween.
Getting Your Child Used to the Halloween Season
October is full of spooky decoration, colorful costuming, and fun. But it can still be scary for children with special needs, if they’re not familiar with it. Use these ideas to help your child get comfortable with Halloween.
- Create a visual story of what your child can expect on Halloween. Use pictures or drawings to show trick-or-treating, costumes, etc. This will help your child prepare for the activities.
- Pumpkin Carving: This can be a messy activity. If your child does not like getting their hands dirty, try decorating a pumpkin without carving it. Pumpkin Masters sells kits that don’t require carving.
- Try on costumes before Halloween. The costume should fit well (otherwise it may distress the child and ruin their fun), and not cause any sensory problems.
- Don’t force your child to “pick their own costume.” Some children may not understand Halloween, or they might have trouble making decisions. If so, choose a costume for them and include it in the visual story.
- Consider a Halloween costume that fits over your child’s regular clothes, such as butterfly wings or capes. It’s easier to wear and less to get used to.
- If your child doesn’t like their costume, don’t make them wear it. Talk about it with your child. Look for the reason they don’t like it. Talking with your child may help them get used to the costume.
- Have your child wear their costume for short periods of time. Increase the interval over time.
- Practice trick-or-treating beforehand**. Go to a neighbor’s door, have the child ring the bell or knock, and have them thank the neighbor when receiving candy.
**Remember: The normal procedure when knocking on someone’s door is to enter after it’s opened. It’s different on Halloween—then, we knock on doors but stay outside.
This is outside of your child’s normal routine. Practice will help them understand the difference, and avoid any awkward moments.
In fact, that leads into talking about safety on Halloween.
Halloween Safety: How to Keep Everyone Safe While Having Fun
It’s important to remember that the rules we set as parents – don’t talk to strangers, don’t run in the street – do not apply on Halloween. Kids may get confused, especially if they’re the type who prefer rules never change.
To help make the day both safer and more enjoyable, we recommend the following steps. These will both help you prepare for Halloween beforehand, and guide your child while out celebrating.
Choose a Halloween activity your child will enjoy. If they like going trick-or-treating, partner up with other families in the neighborhood your child already knows.
Is your child is afraid of going out at night? Plan an indoor or daytime Halloween activity. We have some of these under “Local Events” below!
Staying in to give out candy? Have your child practice giving out candy, piece by piece. Ask a neighbor to bring their child over early for practicing. (Their child will love getting extra candy just for helping!)
The following tips come from Shelly Allred, Director of Safety Programs at Pathfinders for Autism. She has some great ideas on keeping children with autism safe on Halloween.
Stick to homes you know. The familiarity will make your child more comfortable with walking up and asking for treats.
Give cars every opportunity to see your child. Try light-up sneakers, glow-in-the-dark bracelets, and flashlights.
Use the buddy system. Pair your child with a neurotypical child they know. That way your child can see the trick-or-treating process by watching them. And it’s another set of eyes on your child.
Take photos of your child in their costume. This is great for showing the child next October, but it also has a practical use. If the child does elope, show the photo to neighbors so they can help you find them.
Go for soft rubber weapons. If your child’s costume uses a weapon, make sure it’s made of flexible rubber. Some children will “take on” a character when wearing a costume, and start swinging a weapon around. Even fake weapons can hurt if there’s enough force!
A Little Time & Practice, and Your Child is Ready for Halloween Fun!
Since it’s early October, you have plenty of time to get your child used to wearing a costume, and to practice trick-or-treating. How often you practice depends on your child’s comfort level.
If your child really doesn’t like costumes (or is scared of the dark), the Local Events mentioned below are a great alternative. From everyone here at A is for Apple, have a safe and happy Halloween!
Look for Part 2 of “Thrive” later this month. We’ll have more content and more local events to enjoy.
See you next month!
Places to Go for Halloween
October is full of fun events for kids and families. Here’s one such event, coming up every weekend this month.
Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch (Every October Weekend)
- Where: Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch, Santa Teresa Boulevard at Bailey Avenue, San Jose
- When: Every weekend in October
- How to Contact: (408) 763-1093 or the Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch Website
Spina Farms is located between San Jose and Morgan Hill. The Pumpkin Patch is open during October. Hours are Sunday to Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Friday to Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Spina Farms has a hay ride, train rides, a petting zoo, and of course a big pumpkin patch! Parking and admission are free. It’s open weekdays, but the Petting Zoo and Pony Rides are only available on the weekends.
Look for Part 2 of “Thrive” on October 20 with more Halloween events!