Are you wondering what a sensory-friendly Halloween means?
Parents wonder how to help their child cope with the sometimes overwhelming experience of trick or treating.
Communities look for strategies to make Halloween events more accessible to all children.
A sensory-friendly Halloween is THE answer.
In this article, you will learn about sensory-friendly trick or treating. You will also gain access to a free package of Halloween resources like a sign to post on your door, affirmations to remind you how to offer more inclusive trick or treating, and finally a story to read with your child who might struggle with trick or treating.
Did you realize that trick or treating is a sensory-rich event?
Everyone is dressed up in costumes. Houses are decorated. Even lawns are decorated. Some people play spooky music. Some decorations move and are designed to be scary. There are a lot of people out walking on the street. It is important to know that Halloween, and going out trick or treating, can be overwhelming and scary for many children.
Children may not be dressed up in a costume, they may not be able to tolerate the itchy, scratchy factor of dressing up.
Other children will not be able to say “trick or treat” or “thank-you”. They are polite children but may struggle with language.
Even older children may have difficulty understanding how much candy to take from your basket and grab a handful; they may struggle to understand the concept of trick or treating.
Finally, many children may be very shy and not want to talk to you at all, they may struggle to speak to strangers.
Some children may become upset over something that seems insignificant to you but it is difficult for them to handle due to the crowds, noise, unfamiliarity, and all the strangers in costumes.
Some children (and adults) will experience sensory overload while going out trick or treating because it is busy, noisy, and bright with lights, flashing lights and decorations, and a lot of sensory information to process. You can also learn more about sensory disorders and sensory overload. Finally, there is a big link between autism, anxiety, and sensory overload, especially for children.
Did you know you can help children with sensory challenges enjoy trick or treating?
Help children (of all ages) practice the new skills they are learning and enjoy the parts of trick or treating that are the right fit for them.
Your patience, understanding, and support means all the difference to their parents and will make this Halloween special for the children who visit you.
Here are seven things you can do to offer sensory-friendly trick or treating:
- Provide an extra dose of patience and understanding to the children visiting your home.
- Keep extra conversation to a minimum.
- Scale down or eliminate extra noise, music, or noisy decorations.
- Reduce or eliminate flashing, flickering, or strobe lights.
- Avoid or eliminate decorations that move.
- Dilute or eliminate extra scents (like scented candles).
- Keep it low key. Don’t try to surprise or scare children.
To help people and communities offer sensory-friendly trick or treating we developed a FREE package of resources for you that includes:
- Affirmations to help guide you on how to make trick or treating more sensory-friendly.
- A downloadable sign to post on your door identifying your household or event as offering more sensory-friendly trick or treating.
- A sensory-friendly trick or treating story to help children manage the sensory-rich experience.
We know Halloween is only days away. Let people know that you are offering a sensory-friendly Halloween experience at your household or community event. Download the resources and print the sensory-friendly door sign. Follow the affirmations to guide you. And read the Sensory Friendly Trick or Treating story with your child.
You can also like or follow our Sensory Friendly Facebook page or join our Sensory Friendly Facebook group where we will be sharing our Halloween tips too. Look for our Facebook post that you can share to let your community know you are offering sensory-friendly trick or treating at your home.
Here are six more ideas to make Halloween easier for your child:
- Do you have a video or photos from past Halloweens and trick or treating? Show them to or watch them with your child to teach them about what happens and what to expect.
- Practice trick or treating at your own door and with close friends and family or friendly neighbors before Halloween.
- Practice trick or treating at home. Have your child knock on doors throughout your house! Children love this!
- Find small, local community trunk or treat events to attend.
- Make pumpkin carving less sensory-rich, decorate your pumpkin with stickers or simply its own costume instead.
- Finally, we love, love, love these ideas for fun and engaging Halloween themed play. They let you choose activities that are the right fit for your child’s sensory preferences and exploration!
Are you looking for sensory-friendly Halloween costumes?
A good place to start is to build a costume from everyday clothes. To be even more helpful, you can start with sensory-friendly clothing next to your child’s skin.
Did you know that for children who experience sensory overload from the feeling of clothes against their skin, sensory-friendly clothing can help?
Sensory-friendly clothing has things like no seams, no tags, and is often very soft. Children and adults who experience sensory overload may feel a tag, or a seam, roughness in the fabric, or even a thread sticking out that other people do not notice at all.
A simple costume worn over sensory-friendly clothing can help reduce your child’s discomfort.
Examples of sensory-friendly clothing are:
Christel Seeberger has been an occupational therapist for more than 25 years, helping people of all ages who experience sensory sensitivity and sensory overload. Christel understands how sensitivity and overload feel, she has hearing loss and wears hearing aids. Christel founded Sensory Friendly Solutions in 2016 to bring together people around the world looking for sensory-friendly living and the individuals, businesses and organizations who create sensory friendly experiences.