Halloween is a fun and exciting time for both adults and children. For many neurodivergent children, however, this exciting event can cause some stress and frustration. By learning about potential triggers and support that we may provide, we can work to ensure that Halloween is as fun as possible for the whole family!

Why can Halloween be challenging for neurodivergent kids?
  • Costumes can be a sensory challenge 
  • Deviation from a routine 
  • Pressure to interact with others 
  • Social interactions may be more complicated to interpret 
  • Decorations can be visually overwhelming 
  • There are many unexpected noises and other surprises
How can we help?

Put Halloween on the calendar and discuss it regularly within your child 

Have a sensory “safe space” that children can escape to 

Provide your child to access to sensory aids*

  • Hand fidgets for if they’re feeling nervous/wiggly  
  • Noise-canceling headphones if it’s too loud 
  • A weighted snake when they have to wait their turn 
  • Sunglasses if there are too many bright/strobe lights 

Provide your child with access to alternative communication modalities 

  • Their personalized AAC/SGD
  • You can use the picture communicate aid provided to the right

Provide your child with non-food related treats in case they experience too many sensory aversions to the provided candy 

Take part in a regulating activity prior to trick-or-treating*

Provide space for your child to combat exhaustion/burn-out after Halloween activities 

Alter your child’s costume – see our next video for specific information from OT Mackenzie regarding tips for making your child’s costume sensory friendly

 

*consult with your child’s OT to take into account their unique sensory needs 

Resources

And Next Comes L has a list of free Halloween Social Stories that you can print and read with your child.

You can print this out on a sheet of paper to carry with you, tape this to their candy bucket, or put it in a badge holder!

Blog by Laura Strenk, MS, CCC-SLP

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