Trick or treating is a tradition that many families look forward to each year, Unfortunately, some aspects can be truly frightening and overwhelming for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Unfamiliar faces/costumes and sensory stimuli, such as strobe lights, sound effects and fog machines are some of the common encounters children with autism struggle with on Halloween. That doesn’t mean your child can’t enjoy trick or treating, but you’ll want to take some precautions to ensure everyone has a happy Halloween.
Make a plan
Discuss schedule changes, the route you will take, and decide which houses you’re going to visit. It may also be a good idea to create a map of your neighborhood to help your child visualize what you’re doing and when. He can even take the map along and mark out of the houses you’ve already visited.
If your child struggles with sensory overload, find a neighborhood that doesn’t get a lot of trick or treating traffic.
Practice and prepare
Visit the neighborhood a day or two in advance at the same time that you’ll be trick or treating. This will allow your child to see what the environment looks like in the twilight house. Additionally, you may be able to identify sensory issues and plan for worst-case scenarios before the big night.
If you know the residents in the area, ask if you can do a trial run at a house or two so your child can get familiar with knocking on doors, saying trick or treat and placing the candy in their bags. Alternatively, you can practice trick or treating in your garage.
If your child is nonverbal, consider printing out cards like these and allowing your child to hand them to the each homeowner. You can also print it larger and on thinker paper stock so your child can carry it like a sign:
(created by http://www.theautismeducationsite.com/ )
Go with the flow
There are many Halloween variables you can’t control, including the weather and your child’s endurance. If it gets to be too much, consider changing your plans and invite a few friends or family members over to trick or treat at home. The kids can go door to door within your home for a similar experience.
Another alternative is to attend one of the trunk or treat events around Richmond. Here is a list of kid friendly Halloween happenings in and around Richmond. These events are often held indoors and your child wouldn’t have to actually knock on any doors, but he can still have fun collecting candy in his Halloween costume.
Make it fun!
One of the easiest ways to make sure your child has fun trick or treating is to let him go with friends. Being around other kids who are excited about Halloween will naturally encourage your child to have a good time.
Finally, remember to end the evening on a high note. Prepare a fun game or special snack for your child to look forward to when you arrive back at home.