Tips for Trick or Treating with special needs children

Over the years Harvest festivals or Halloween has been one of those hit or miss holidays for Connor. He doesn’t always love wearing a costume, he doesn’t like seeing other kids in costumes and he definitely doesn’t love the fog machines and scary music. But he will almost always endure anything for that candy. I think the biggest struggle of all is when someone offers out a whole bowl of candy to him and expects him to pick just one. His first reaction was to say, thank you, take the whole bowl and turn around and walk away.

I recently came across offers tips that we will be trying this year and I wanted to share them with you.

Here are some tips for preparing a child in the spectrum for participation in the festivities of a Harvest Festival or Halloween:

The Costume: Allow choice making regarding the costume. Ensure that there is active agreement regarding what costume will be worn. Understand your child’s own sensory considerations and ensure that the costume does not pose a sensory challenge. Also, consider your child’s allergies and ensure you do not introduce a costume that may provoke an allergic reaction (e.g., latex, or make-up). At least one week before Halloween, you will want to “rehearse” putting the costume on and walking around the house with it on. This will allow you to rule-in or rule-out any of the issues mentioned above.

The Dark Neighborhood: At least one week before the Haloween, “rehearse” walking in the neighborhood, in the dark, with a flashlight (if the intention is to go out in the evening). Pre-teach the entire Trick-or-Treat sequence:

.    Approach a house.

.    Knock on a door or approach an open door.

.    Select one piece of candy, or treat (this can be challenging since children are not often presented with an entire bowl of candy and asked to select just one).

connor superman

.    Saying thank you for the treat.

.    Follow the flashlight to the next house (again, if dark outside during the house visits).

Watch You Tube videos of other children going through the trick-or-treat sequence, like this one for instance:

The Candy: Of course there will be a desire to eat the candy. You will want to set expectations in advance. One way to manage the request is to create a narrative (a story) that you will review with your child a few days prior to the event. In addition, you can use a timing device your child can wear or hold in their pocket. A device that sounds an alarm or vibrates will signal the time for a “gobbling goblin” break.




Leave a Reply