Halloween can be a fun and exciting time for kids, including kids on the spectrum or who have sensory processing disorder. It takes a some extra work and digging but it is possible for you to give your child on the autism spectrum a fun time catered to their needs!
Most fall and Halloween events can be loud, busy, and stressful for neurodivergent kids. If you plan to take your child out, aim for small and local. An event that specifies “sensory friendly” is even better and what to look out for! We’ll share some we came across below, if we’re missing any please let us know so we can share with the community!
Events might not even be your families thing, and that’s OK! Here are some tips for the Halloween festive season, even if you’re staying at home or if you decide to do one side of the street for trick or treating.
Autism, Sensory-Friendly Halloween Tips for Families
- Be aware of the costume material, aim for larger sizes so your child can wear their regular clothes underneath
- Skip the face paint
- Give them noise cancelling headphones to wear (for events)
- Show them pictures of their previous halloween experience or discuss in advanced what you guys will be doing and where you will be walking
- Practice trick or treating at your door with friends & family
- Let them try the costume on a few times before heading out
- Carry a blue bucket ! (see details below)
- Lower your expectations (especially if this is your first Halloween as a parent with a child who’s on the spectrum/ sensory processing disorder)
Sensory friendly at home activities:
- Pumpkin guts sensory bag
- Painting pumpkins instead of carving
- Pumpkin baths (bubbles & sponges )
- Flashlight books
- Have your own Halloween dance party at home
- Stay home to hand out candy and offer a sensory friendly experience to all trick or treaters who visit your home!
Blue Bucket Project
A blue bucket for trick or treat promotes awareness that the trick or treater holding the bucket has autism. All started by a mom with a young adult child wanting to go trick or treat, now has become a nationwide initiative. Not all kids will be able to say “please” or “thank you” or trick or treat”. By noticing a child/ adult with a blue bucket, we can approach with empathy and kindness, maybe just a smile and letting them pick their treat and be on their way. That might also look like meeting them at the end of your driveway vs making them ring the doorbell. When you see a child/ adult with a blue bucket, maybe skip the questions for that trick or treater (i.e what’s your costume, how many houses have you went to, you didn’t say trick or treat).
A teal bucket means that the trick or treater has food allergies and to give either an allergen friendly treat or a non food item. These new initiatives and projects helps everyone have a fun Halloween and are simple changes to be aware of when you’re out with your family this season. Being inclusive doesn’t have to be difficult or confusing. Share these tips with someone who may need them!
Autism, Sensory-Friendly Halloween Events
Trunk or treat in Ixonia (from Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin) you have to register in advance.
Join us for a spooktacular free time at the Sensory Friendly Trunk or Treat event! This in-person event promises a frightfully fun experience for all. This special opportunity has been designed to provide those who may have sensory processing differences an opportunity to enjoy a trick or treating experience that has been designed with them in mind! Dress up in your favorite costumes and get ready for a night filled with candy, games, and more. Our Sensory Friendly approach ensures a welcoming environment for individuals with sensory sensitivities. So, come one, come all, and let’s have a howling good time together!
Families – bring your sensory go bags with you! We will have a few pairs of noise cancelling headphones and some fidget items available for use, but it’s always best to have familiar items whenever possible.
There is no requirement to wear a costume; please use this as an opportunity to do what is comfortable.
Important things to note:
- Pre-registration is required to ensure that we can maintain small group sizes. Please show up for the time you select so the event may run smoothly for all participants.
- Snacks will be provided for participants and those with food allergies, please be aware that there will not be alternate food and snacks.