Halloween is fast approaching and for many, this is a fun and exciting time. But for those with sensory processing difficulties (SPD) Halloween can present many challenges. Learning some Halloween tips will help your day go more smoothly.
Some kids with SPD struggle with touch, which can cause difficulties with textures and materials. This can result in very strong preferences around the clothing they wear.
For these kids, Halloween costumes can present many challenges. They are unfamiliar, the texture, weight, and style are different. Maybe the costume also has a mask or hat to wear which may be difficult for your child.
Choose the costume wisely, take into consideration what your child’s preferences are. Get their input, something they are excited about will be easier.
Here are a few Halloween costume tips:
- Get the costume early! You may need to gradually expose your child to the costume to help them tolerate and be excited to wear it.
- Try on the costume multiple times leading up to the day.
- Have the costume out for your child to see often.
- Work on wearing just part of the costume at one time. For example, one day try just the pants. Maybe next try the shirt or top. Add in the other components as they get more comfortable.
- Wear preferred clothing or compression clothing under the costume. Having their preferred pants on underneath the stiff pants of their Bob the Builder costume may allow them to tolerate it better. Bonus, if part way through the activities they need to get the costume off this can be easily done since they are dressed underneath!
- Hype it up, talk about the costume, what they will wear and do. Get them excited to be their favorite character or superhero.
- Get creative! It’s okay to modify a costume. For example, if your child is going to be Batman, and doesn’t tolerate a mask on their face, maybe you do a hat with the Batman ears leaving their face uncovered.
Halloween event tips
Some Halloween events may be overwhelming. There may be more people around, in an unfamiliar place, or loud or unexpected noises.
If your child struggles with noisy, busy environments make sure to prepare.
Bring along their noise-canceling headphones, their favorite fidget, or their compression/weighted vest if those are helpful for them.
Plan to take breaks with your child to get them away from the overstimulating environment for a moment. This could be a quick walk outside, going to another room to read a book, or doing a quick skin brushing and joint compression routine.
Halloween decorations can be scary, noisy, or startling. Make sure to scout out the areas you will go to. Look for decorations that may move or make noise unexpectedly. Assess your child’s ability to handle these stimuli. If you know where that scary ‘monster’ is you may decide to avoid that house altogether or can help prepare your child for what may happen.
Kids who have sensory processing difficulties often do better when they are prepared. New and unexpected activities often present a struggle for them. Talk about the Halloween events you will engage in, discuss what to expect, and what they might be excited about. Know that things might not go to plan and as always be ready to change gears when this happens.
And remember, not everyone participates in the event in the same way, and that is OK!