October is here and that means one of the favorite times of year for many children is just around the corner. Halloween is an exciting and creative time to dress up in fun costumes and have a treat or two. However, for some youngsters it may be very overwhelming with all the sights and sounds that can trigger children who have sensory challenges.
Here are some tips to help you navigate this spooky time of year to ensure a sensory-friendly Halloween with loved ones.
How to Prepare for a Sensory-Friendly Halloween
Many people don’t like being subjected to unfamiliar situations. For some, Halloween and all the aspects of the holiday, can not only be scary, but also unfamiliar. Talking with loved ones before the main event helps to prepare them for a variety of situations and may help put them at ease.
Key points to talk about with children in order to help them prepare:
- What they may see or hear when out trick-or-treating
- How costumes are supposed to be fun and not intended to be too scary
- What the trick-or-treating experience is like
- What treats they may receive and how to prepare for any food allergies
- What it means to stay safe for the night
It is also a good idea to try on costumes before the big night. This helps children sensitive to certain materials, makeups, and fabrics get a chance to see what their intended costume entails and what they can expect for the night. It also gives parents and loved ones a chance to adjust the costume to make it more comfortable for the child.
When Sensory Systems are Triggered
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, between five to fifteen percent of children experience some difficulties when interpreting sight, sounds, taste, touch, or perceptions of movements. Overstimulation of these senses may lead a child to a meltdown. By recognizing the signs of when this might happen, you and other trusted adults can help make the holiday fun for all children.
You can help a child with sensory challenges avoid overstimulation by limiting the number of Halloween activities you plan to participate in for the season. Giving the child some choices in advance can help them understand what to expect and prepare in advance for things they might feel, think, or experience.
Avoiding Overwhelming Meltdowns
One big key for adults helping children with sensory challenges and avoiding overwhelming meltdowns is recognizing what the limit is for a child. Teach them to let you and other trusted adults know when an experience is getting overwhelming for them by practicing phrases like “when will it be my turn?” or “please don’t touch me.”
If you are unsure how a child will react to Halloween it may be not only safer, but also more fun to opt for other activities than trick-or-treating or traditional Halloween parties. Sensory-friendly parties with a small group of friends can be a fun way for a child to dress up and have fun without the overstimulation of a traditional Halloween experience. Pumpkin carving can be a great activity for these parties. Another option could be to include in-home trick-or-treating where children can collect candy and treats from different stations around your house.
Getting in the Spirit yet Staying Safe
As the days get shorter and just a bit cooler, now is a great time to begin preparing for Halloween and all of the spooky experiences. If you need some help navigating this special time of year, reach out to our qualified professionals at Mind and Motion Centers of Georgia today to learn more.