Halloween is creeping around the corner. With spooky costumes haunting the night, swarming crowds, and jump scares running amuck, it’s understandable for anyone to feel overwhelmed on Halloween night. In particular, kiddos with sensory processing disorder or other sensory conditions can internalize heavy discomfort. By planning ahead, you can ensure that Halloween is a fun event for the whole family.
Trick-Or-Treating with Sensory Processing Disorder
On Halloween night, trick-or-treating can be a huge undertaking for a child with sensory processing disorder (SPD). Doing so involves speaking to strangers, dressing in unfamiliar clothing, and walking outside with little to no sunshine. Kiddos with SPD have consistent reactions to specific triggers. Most parents can predict that their kiddo will have an excessive reaction to a stimulus. For example, when your kiddo hears a witch’s laugh, they may always plug their ears, whine, and complain of the noise.
Most kiddos, and sometimes even parents, want to go out trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Planning ahead is your ticket to a successful, fun night. To help your kiddo, practice as much as possible. Find costumes that are simple and easy to wear. A witch hat and a small broom would be more than enough to pass as a fun yet functional costume.
Wear any costumes beforehand and walk around the route you plan to take. Allow them to see what other costumes may look like as well by searching online. Any time you and your kiddo stroll around in costumes, bring an extra set of clothes that they could change into in the event that the costume becomes too much.
Upon dancing down the street in a Boogie Man costume with your young goblin friend, don’t be afraid to take as many breaks as needed. Teach your kiddo a codeword or hand signal that they can use if they need to take a step back. As their parent, you can help by watching their demeanor too. Kids who are tired, irritable, or frowning might also be kids who need to call it a night.
Maximizing comfort as much as possible will benefit your child. If they can bring a comfort item like a small toy or stuffed animal, let them bring it along. Just be sure there is a way to keep track of the item as to not lose it. If you can, select areas that will not be overcrowded with people too. Monster swarms are the last thing a child with sensory difficulties should have to face.
The Unconventional Route
At the end of the day, we have to stress that Halloween is meant to be fun. Like most things, trick-or-treating wasn’t built for every child or family. Having a night well-spent can involve many other activities. Stay home and craft, carve pumpkins, or watch spooky kid-friendly movies. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s a family affair and that your kiddo is on board for the activities that await.
If you suspect that your child has sensory processing disorder, learn how occupational therapy at our office can help.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated to reflect the most up-to-date information for parents and caregivers.