By Valerie Rice | October 7, 2020
Who doesn’t love Halloween? The pumpkin carving, the scares, the candy… special needs kids, that’s who. From sensory issues to schedule interruptions, the barriers to enjoying this holiday are endless. Well, as every special needs parent knows, accommodations require elbow grease and creativity. We can help with that. I happen to have a few tricks up my sleeves to help make this holiday a treat.
Skip the PreFab
As adorable as that little pirate costume may be, there is a good chance that the fabric will drive your sensory kid up the wall. Nobody wants a meltdown from a pirate, and the pirate just wants to have fun, er, treasure. Homemade to the rescue! Use old clothes you don’t mind tattering and create a unique pirate outfit that is already made of fabrics your kiddo will tolerate, or click here for other costume ideas. It doesn’t have to be major;e are seeking comfort, right? Comfort is KING because nothing else about today is going to be soothing unless you make it so. Let’s see what else we can do to help our kids.
Keep Them in the Loop
Nothing says “I love you” like letting your kid know exactly what is going on to the best of your ability. Whether your kiddo likes picture schedules or written ones, make sure you prepare them in advance. Many of us already do this, I know, but holidays require extra time and attention. Use social stories to explain events that may be confusing, because 2020 look different from last year. Never done that? Click here. Make your schedule portable, use a countdown so they know EXACTLY when to expect these things, and, most importantly, STICK TO IT! It really doesn’t matter how badly you want to run through the drive-thru, if it isn’t in the schedule, you may NOT! Oh, which reminds me…
Oh, haha, I just banned you from the drive-thru. Yeah, well, what do you normally eat? The goal is to keep Halloween calm and normal except for the planned activities, remember? So have your regular meal times with regular food. Not only does this mean that nobody has an extra reason to be upset, but the food keeps everyone calm and happy. As much as it ever does at least. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs lets us know that our basic human needs come first before we can engage in anything else. Sure, we typically apply this in counseling and social work, but let’s just generalize for a moment and remember that nobody has a good time when they are tired and hungry.
Go With Their Interests
The only wonderful thing to come out of 2020, aside from the memes, is the blanket acceptance of refusals. Seriously, this is an introvert paradise. So, if your child detests trunk or treat, you don’t have to go! Crowds are bad anyway! If you guys have no interest in your neighbor’s ridiculous haunted house, decline! Confined spaces have zero value add for most special needs kids’ fun meter. For the first time EVER you get to decide which activities you do without social pressure. Cooties are everywhere, you have an access denial pass! WOOHoo! Pick and choose which spooky or special activities to engage in based solely on you and your child’s interests and level of function.
Whatever you decide to do, and however you do it, know when to throw in the towel. I know I said stick to your schedule, but if a meltdown is imminent, end it. Seriously, pack it in, give your kid their favorite calming tool, and Halloween is over. It’s just a holiday, not the end of the world. Nobody needs a life littered with tears and traumatic memories. You can always kick tradition out the door and make your own like snuggling on the couch, or watching your child’s favorite movie, or having a music party with all their favorite songs.” Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people,” after all. Who said that? Well, follow the link and find out!
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