This is Halloween, everybody make a scene!
Sorry, I am properly excited, I LOVE Halloween. I have loved spooky stuff ever since I was a kid; I love horror movies, I love seeing all the kids in costumes and I love listening to goth music all the way through October. My kids are excited too, they’ve been planning their costumes for months (Doctor Who theme this year) and they’re bugging me to put the decorations up already.
But that’s us, and we all know that although autistic people have things in common, no two of us are exactly the same; some autistic people find Halloween difficult. Adults might find it easier to regulate the amount of activities and exposure to Halloween that they have, but kids have less control. So here are some tips on how to make things easier for them.
Trick or treating
This is the main event for Halloween for a lot of kids, but not all. Maybe your kid would rather stay home and eat candy. Have a talk with them and see if they actually want to go and let them know that it’s OK if they don’t.
When it comes to knocking on doors, some kids cannot or do not want to speak. You can explain this to people (you can always say they are shy if you don’t want to have to explain everything) and they should not demand that your child speak in return for candy- if they do they are being an arsehole so feel free to tell them (you can say I told you to say it).
There has been a lot of talk this year about blue pumpkins to symbolise autism. I’m not a fan of this for a couple of reasons- firstly, teal pumpkins have been used for a while to symbolise food allergies and teal and blue are easily mixed up. Also, blue is the corporate colour for Autism Speaks and they suck. Lastly, some kids may not want all and sundry to know they are autistic.
There can be many sensory issues surrounding costumes. If your child can’t cope with a costume but they still want to get into the spirit of things (sorry) then consider carrying props instead. Dressing all in black and carrying a scythe is a costume, even if it’s just regular black clothes.
Visits from trick or treaters
This can be very difficult for some autistic children to handle. Where we live we get a lot of trick or treaters and they arrive sporadically from 5:30pm to around 8:30pm. I enjoy it, but it is exhausting. A lot of the kids are excited and loud. It can just be too much for some autistic kids to handle. You may want to consider putting up a sign asking for no trick or treaters. If you feel bad, you can always leave out a bowl of candy (although some kids might get over-excited and take too much!). You could also disconnect the doorbell and make sure there is a quiet space away from the front door for your child to relax.
Break in routine
Some autistic kids need a steady routine so they feel secure, and a break in this can be very distressing for them. So maybe they just want to do nothing at all. It’s likely that there will be Halloween decorations and activities at school, Cubs/Brownies etc so some consistency at home is important. I understand as a huge fan of Halloween that it can be a bit of a downer not doing anything, but as adults we just need to suck it up and do what is best for our kids. Feel free to binge on candy and horror movies once the kids are in bed!
Honestly, just a bad idea.
Wishing you and your families a Happy Halloween whatever you decide to do!