October is Autism Awareness Month and it’s also the month when ghouls and goblins abound! At this point, the B.C. government hasn’t cancelled Halloween due to COVID. For the B.C. Public Health Authority’s tips on making Halloween COVID safe, go here.
Here are some trick or treating tips for parents of children with ASD.
- Prepare your child with what they might expect in the evening. What it is, what it means, and of course, free candy is easy to explain. Perhaps do some practice treat or treating runs at a friend’s house.
- Help them understand the rules of Trick or Treating. Knocking on the door and receiving candy is not an invitation to go inside. Help them understand little ghouls and goblins are supposed to yell “TRICK OR TREAT!!” Your child may not be up to doing that, so mom and dad, warm up your vocal cords and help out.
- Let them know that they will be in the comfort of their own neighbourhood, and even though it’s dark outside, they are the streets and homes they are used to.
- Start small. Go to two or three houses close by and gauge their reaction.
- Avoid homes with big, flashy, and scary displays. This may be overwhelming for some.
- If your child only goes out for a short while or changes their mind at the last minute, that’s ok. Whatever their comfort level is the amount of trick or treating they will do.
- At this point, it’s safe to say your child will have picked out a suitable costume that reflects their sensory needs, but that doesn’t mean they will wear it and feel comfortable doing so. If they have concerns about it, encourage them to put it on for short periods before the big day. Don’t force them to put it on.
- Some of the best costumes for those on the spectrum are the kinds you can easily put over their regular clothing. These offer far less discomfort and ill-fitting concerns.
- Avoid using face paint as this may be a challenge for your child’s sensory needs.
- Often children on the spectrum will take time to root through the candy to make sure they get the right one. Because of COVID and social distancing, this may not be possible this year. Encourage your child to accept the goodies they’ve been offered. If they don’t want it, that’s ok too.
- Does your child have a buddy they can go with? This will help a lot with comfort levels and a change of routine.
- There might be a lot of people out that night, and a lot of very scary costumes. If your child feels anxious about that and changes their mind, that’s ok. A night in is just as fun.