Tips and Tricks this Halloween
Trick or Treating with small children with autism
Have a child under 5 that is developmentally delayed or have a child with diagnosed autism? Here are my five tips and tricks for this Halloween when going trick or treating.
Comfort and liking the costume
First, the child must be comfortable in the costume. I would try to get the child to participate in picking out a costume. Sometimes, kids already have a superhero costume or dress up clothes that they already love. There is nothing wrong with using something you already have that you know they will wear. The last thing you want to happen is for the child to have a meltdown over wearing something they don’t like right before you want to go. Also, when you get the costume (maybe before you buy it) open the package to feel the material. Check to see if there are tags or scratchy fabrics on the inside. Do yo need to buy an undershirt or shorts to go under the costume? Then, try it on and maybe have a mini practice session at home or at therapy.
Walking and safety
How often do you practice walking on the sidewalks or in your neighborhood? When our son was young we were the parents that put the backpack leash on our son. He would run away randomly or would be completely distracted when walking. People may disagree with leashing children but it allowed our son to walk more freely but be safe. How about listening…does your child respond when you call his name? For a period of time our son had to be called multiple times before he would stop and look for us. Safely on Halloween and well everyday should be highest of priority. I would think about your child and what tools you have used to help keep her safe in the past. For us, we always have one adult that is just for redirecting my son and we always bring friends for extra hands.
Neighborhood and community
Are you going to trick or treat in your neighborhood? For us, we walk in our neighborhood and the school is walking distance to our house. Max doesn’t attend the school anymore but his sister does now. Each day they walk to and from school. Everyday, the community and neighborhood sees our children with their dad. We also walk to the playground and go for walks are the block. If you don’t live in a community suitable for walking then think about places where friends live that you can visit or participate in a truck or treat event!
My child is highly motivated by CANDY! He will say trick or treat to the best of his ability if he gets rewarded with candy. The response-reward definitely reinforces the activity. He will get to a point in the night where he believes he has enough candy and will want to return home. He really has a fun time and enjoys the night If you don’t want your child eating the candy or all the candy you can always create an alternative system. Like the dentist will buy or trade your candy after Halloween, or you can weigh it and give them money to buy a toy.
Depending on your child and Halloween situation there are lots of ideas to make it more inclusive to all kids. Anyway that you can give out information about autism, developmental delays or special diets is very helpful, wear an autism tee shirt, tell older people- my child has autism and is not understanding you, have some printed cards to hand out if you can’t say anything but felt you needed to say something. Bring a wagon when you go so that the child only has to get out when comfortable or it can be used if the child is not being safe while walking. Bring other positive rewards if necessary to continue to motivate the kids to keep walking. Find ways to make it fun for your specific special needs child.
Have a safe and fun Halloween!