Halloween can be a lot of fun, but with the costumes, decorations, new people, transitions, etc., it can be a difficult experience for a lot of individuals with autism and other disabilities. Here are some tips and tricks that might make your holiday go a bit more smoothly.
Before the big day:
Try on the costume and make some modifications if needed: cut tags off, layer softer fabric underneath, remove mask, etc.
Practice: You can practice either around the house or at a few neighbors’ houses that you know. Practice knocking, saying “trick-or-treat”, and holding out the bag/bucket. If your learner cannot say “trick-or-treat”, you can have communication cards/icons that they or their parents can give to whoever is handing out the treats. Here are several free printable examples of cards that you could provide. You can also get bags that say something similar on the front or carry a blue bucket for autism awareness.
If food preference or restrictions are a concern, you could drop off preferred items to neighbors ahead of time for them to pass out when the time comes. Carrying a teal bucket signifies food allergies and will let neighbors who are aware of this know to give a non-food treats; look for houses with teal pumpkins to ensure they have non-food treats available.
On the Day:
Start small: go to a few houses of friends or neighbors that you know and have possibly even practiced with ahead of time.
Take breaks: you can do a few houses at a time and then take a break to look at all the collected goodies or do another preferred acivitiy.
After you finish:
You can offer a trade for any treats that aren’t preferred, safe, or allowed (e.g., 1 piece of non-preferred candy gets you 1 piece of preferred candy/small toy).
Alternatives to trick-or-treating:
As much fun as trick-or-treating can be, it might not be for everyone. It may be more fun for everyone to find another activity altogether.
Helping pass out candy: Passing out the candy may be a fun alternative to getting dressed up and walking around door to door.
Local Halloween events: You can sometimes find different local groups that host small trunk-or-treats or other fairs that may be more preferred.
Start a new tradition: A night in watching fun Halloween movies might be a fun option as well.
I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween this year. Happy Halloween!