Halloween doesn’t have to be all stress and no fun for children with sensory processing disorder. Whether you have a sensory-sensitive child or not, here are some tips to ensure a fun and enjoyable Halloween.
Costumes are huge to consider when it comes to keeping sensory kids comfortable and calm on Halloween. Most pre-made costumes are made with itchy fabrics and aren’t always sewn straight, creating uncomfortable seams and overall discomfort. For some kids, it’s enough to add some soft (and preferably warm) clothing underneath. For others, it may help to create costumes out of clothes or fabrics you know they are already comfortable with. As strange as it may seem, costumes with a little weight behind them can also help calm your sensory child and help them feel secure (think in terms of a weighted blanket). It also is beneficial to avoid things like makeup, face paint and masks, as they can be irritating to the skin and eyes.
2. Keep to Routes and Houses Your Child is Familiar With
Even walk or drive the route you plan to take ahead of time so they know what to expect. Also, familiarize them with their costume ahead of time. If they’ve had a chance to wear it for a while, they can point out any adjustments that need to be made ahead of time and you don’t have to worry about cutting the night short because of wardrobe issues.
3. Help Your Child Know What to Expect
Knowing what to expect is huge for helping sensory kids avoid meltdowns. Just like setting the route, it’s good to plan with your child when they want to start and stop celebrating and to determine behavior expectations. With setting time guidelines, it is good to give them a way to keep track of the time or give them substantial warnings before it’s time to wrap things up. A visual timer or picture schedule may be helpful.
4. Follow Your Child’s Cues
Sometimes your child will let you know they’ve had enough, but many times they are not going to realize they’ve exceeded their limits until you are facing a tantrum or meltdown. Set up a system. For example, use code words or just have an understanding that you can let the other know that it is time to wrap things up ahead of schedule.
5. Start Your Own Traditions
Halloween movie or book marathons with Halloween-themed healthy snacks, sensory bags, and bottles are activities your child can look forward to. Carving pumpkins and getting a feel for their guts and seeds can be messy fun. You also can try making scented and colorful play dough, having a monster hunt, or creating a sensory bag with your pumpkin guts.
Hope these Halloween tips allow your sensory-sensitive child to have a spooky, fun and safe day!
— Submitted by LLA Therapy, which offers speech-language, physical, occupational, behavioral, and music therapy at its clinics in Fairlawn, Hudson and Medina. LLA is committed to guiding all individuals toward quality therapy solutions to improve the lives of their patients and their families in a collaborative, nurturing and supportive atmosphere. For more information, visit llatherapy.org.