Halloween Trick or Treat Tips for Children with Autism
Trick or treat time can be a memorable, fun experience for any child. Our top suggestions for making trick or treating a positive experience for your child with autism involve focusing on SAFETY and STRATEGY.
SAFETY: Remember that some children may not be comfortable in the dark — especially walking around outside at night. We recommend taking flashlights (and spare batteries), glow sticks and even wearing light-up sneakers while you are out to make everyone more visible.
STRATEGY: Many children often do better when they have a routine and know what to expect from the experience. We recommend planning the route you wish to walk ahead of time and having a conversation your child about which neighbors and which houses you plan to visit. Then, if possible, practice walking the route a day or two before the big night.
Top 10 Halloween Trick or Treat Tips
- Try keeping the rest of your evening routine the same as every night. Start trick or treating festivities early so the rest of your evening routine is as normal as possible.
- Choose costumes that are fun, not scary, that make your children easily visible in the dark and during dusk hours.
- Place an identifying marker with (or on) your child in case of an emergency. Consider: Using a marker to write your name and number on their arm, or placing a name tag on them with your contact information.
- Work with your child to create a neighborhood map of the planned route. Then, during the evening, have your child cross off houses after they have visited and help them prepare for the next one.
- Practice the route during the day to help your child become familiar with the path you will be taking on the big night.
- Practice the sequence of trick or treating to help your child familiarize themselves with what they’ll be doing and saying. For example: First, you will knock on the door or ring the doorbell. Next, someone will answer the door and you will say “trick or treat”. Then, you will hold out your bag for candy. Then, you will say “thank you”. Last, you will walk down the driveway and visit the next house.
- Read a few children’s books about trick or treating to help your child visualize and prepare to what to expect. This should also help them associate trick or treating with a positive experience.
- Take a first aid kit, bottle of water and some snacks – You never know what will happen. Bug spray, extra flashlights (and batteries), noise canceling headphones and an umbrella could also come in handy.
- Check your child’s candy when you get home before they start eating it. Some treats may contain ingredients your child is sensitive to. Or, may be a consistency they don’t know how to eat safely.
- Practice visiting a house your child is familiar with before the big night. Reinforce the victory by celebrating with a special treat or small toy. You can also practice trick or treating in your garage by having your child hand out candy to kids who are pretending to come to “trick or treat”.
With all that being said, be comfortable and know your child’s limits.
If your child can only handle a few houses, then let them just visit a few houses. Return home before a potential problem behavior arises and praise them for doing such a good job. Do your best to end the whole experience on a positive note.
If trick or treating isn’t an option for your family, your child could always participate by helping to pass out treats from home.
We hope this helps you, your child and family have a wonderful Halloween trick or treating experience. If you need an assistance with your child and their autism diagnosis, please do not hesitate to reach out. We work with with a range of special needs, including Asperger’s, autism, speech delays and other developmental and intellectual disabilities.