At SensationALL, we know that Halloween is one of the events in the year that divides people as, while it is a fun celebration for most, many families living with neurodivergent individuals find it a difficult and challenging experience.
If you want to celebrate Halloween this year, here are a few suggestions of how to make it a happy and fun experience for your family…
Decide what you and your family can enjoy (or perhaps just tolerate!) and make plans – do you want to carve a pumpkin, dress up, go to a party, or even go Trick or Treating? Planning in advance gives you a chance to help neurodiverse individuals understand the event and decide how they want to participate so they feel more in control.
Top tip – Show them examples of different activities. Visual stories are useful for introducing different options for celebrating so they can vote for what they want to do. Try these social stories from Little Puddins:
But, always be flexible – you may need to change plans at short notice to suit your neurodiverse person!
Use a countdown in the run up to activities or events – use visual schedules to clearly identify what is happening when.
If dressing up – practice wearing the costume a few times. Consider giving the costume a sensory element (e.g. soft, furry, cosy etc.) or maybe attach a fidget toy to it. Some people like masks to hide behind but others find them constrictive – let your neurodivergent person choose the outfit and how dressed up they want to be. Pinterest is a great source of ideas like these sensory costume suggestions.
Do some role play of the Trick or Treating process. Only make them hold the bucket/bag if they want to and decide together beforehand if they are happy to speak to people or if they want parents/siblings to talk for them.
Top tip – use photos from the internet/social media to show them examples of different costumes they might see when out and about to prepare them for people wearing masks or scary outfits.
Have an exit strategy
We all know that the best laid plans often don’t work out so it’s a good idea to have an exit strategy.
That could be a plan B option if your neurodiverse person refuses to do what you previously agreed – a relaxing Halloween craft or making a Halloween themed snack might be more achievable.
If you do make it out and about, then agree a signal for them to give if they start to feel overwhelmed so you know when it’s time to head home or to a quiet place.
Make it fun!
Halloween can be fun in lots of different ways and there is no “right” way to do it.
They might only wear part of a costume or go Trick or Treating to 1 or 2 houses (or just their grandparent’s house!) or watch while you carve the pumpkin. However they choose to take part, celebrate it and enjoy the small successes with them.
No matter what you do this Halloween, you know your family best so choose the best way to take part without stress. And if your neurodivergent person doesn’t want to do anything at all that’s absolutely fine!
Happy Halloween from SensationALL!