Halloween and kids with FASD are kind of a bad fit. I imagine it’s the same for parents of other children with special needs, particularly if there is any sort of sensory processing difficulties, dietary issues, or your child has difficulties with new or chaotic environments.
I know in our house, the chaos, the candy, the running around in the dark pretty much sends my boys over the edge. I’ve managed to avoid trick or treating until last year when the boys were 3 and 4 and I took them to the mall where my oldest daughter works. That worked well but the boys still rebounded for days. On the upside, the boys actually forgot about trick or treating by the next day and never asked about their candy. So I ate all of it on my own. I`m a giver that way 😉
With all of the Halloween parties and festivities underway, I wanted to spend a little time taking a look at options for kids that just can`t cope with the whole crazy, spooky, party like atmosphere. Change is hard for kids with FASD, even fun change.
Here are a few ideas that might work better for kids who are already on sensory overload and need a different way to celebrate.
Kids with sensory issues can be particularly challenged with Halloween costumes. The costumes can be uncomfortable, itchy, and many have trouble with masks or makeup. Consider costumes that don’t add bulk or require lots of props to keep the fussing at a minimum.
This DIY pizza costume would be fun for kids to make and can be worn like a poncho with no makeup, masks, or accessories.
Making a minion costume is pretty easy as well and doesn’t require a lot of fussing. Skip the goggles if your child really hates things touching his or her face.
Older kids can make a quick emoji costume out of cardboard if they can tolerate the hanging feeling of the board and rope holding the pieces together.
And the ever popular skeleton costume is nothing more than a black shirt with black pants and and some white tape cut to look like bones. Makeup takes it up a notch but it’s still a great costume without it.
TRICK OR TREATING ALTERNATIVES
SET LIMITS AHEAD OF TIME
If you’re child can handle some trick or treating, it’s a good idea to set clear limits and boundaries ahead of time. Let them know exactly where they’ll be going and when trick or treating will be over. You may not be able to prevent the meltdown entirely at the end of the evening, but talking and practicing ahead of time are a good way to help them be ready for the big night.
HAND OUT CANDY
Some children are entirely content to give out candy to trick or treaters at the door. This worked well for us for a few years when the boys were younger when they didn’t really know what candy was. Another idea is to allow them to have their own candy bucket and they can add to it each time they give a piece of candy away. If candy is a “no” for your kids, swap that candy out at the end of the night or have alternatives at the door.
HALLOWEEN COSTUME AND MOVIE NIGHT
This year we’re having a “Halloween Movie Night”. My boys are going to dress up in their costumes and we’ll be watching a movie rather than heading out. They seemed excited by this idea, particularly after I told them there would be popcorn and costumes. This would work well for younger children but you can add incentives for older children, particularly if they understand sensory overload.
BACKYARD TRICK OR TREATING OR SCAVENGER HUNT
Hide some age appropriate treats, snacks, Halloween items, and small toys in the yard and let your kids loose in costume to find the goodies. A great way to celebrate Halloween and be outside but in a more contained and familiar environment. A half an hour is probably all this will take and it’s all many of our kids can handle. You don’t need to even have candy to make this work. Kristi at i should be mopping the floor made this printable a few years ago and it’s perfect for the big night.
HAVE A HALLOWEEN CRAFT OR BAKE NIGHT
Bust out the dollar store crafts or bake up some Halloween goodies together as a family. It gives them something to look forward to and a reward at the end of it. Personally, I’d take cupcakes or homemade cookies (gluten free even!) over the cheap candy bars any day.
HOST OR ATTEND A SMALL HALLOWEEN GATHERING
If your child can manage small gatherings without hitting sensory overload or meltdown status, you can host or attend a small party with like minded families. Limit the sweets, make a craft, or have a parent-approved filled pinata to swat at. Keep the party on the small side and don’t let it go on for more than an hour or two.
Ugh. All that candy. If your child is able to trick or treat or has been to a party, they’re gonna come home with a bucket of candy. A lot of our children are unable to handle the extra sugar, chocolate, and food dyes. Have a plan ahead of time to swap out the collected treats for something that parents approve of and the kids enjoy. Fruit with fun dip, anyone?
If they can handle small amounts of the candy, set limits and remind them ahead of time of what those limits are. With my older kids, I limited candy to two pieces per day and included it in their school lunches. You’re welcome, teachers 😉 #sorrynotsorry
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How do you manage Halloween at your house?