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Top 5 tips to Prepare your Child for a fun Halloween
Halloween is just around the corner! This October month is a time for cool costumes, awesome decorations, treats, and more for kids. While we may find Halloween costumes and decorations to be amazing, these aspects such as scratchy costumes, lighting, noise, unfamiliar faces wearing scary costumes, and other factors may be overwhelming for children with ASD. For this October month, it will be best to prepare your children for activities that will occur on Halloween or other Halloween events your family would like to participate in. In this blog post, I will be describing 5 tips on how to prep your child for a fun Halloween.
- Use Visuals
A visual schedule can be beneficial for children who are not as flexible with routine changes. A calendar may be a good visual for your child to see when Halloween and other events they will participate in for October will occur. These may be events such as a Halloween parade in school, arts and crafts activities, trick or treating, a pumpkin patch, and more.
For children who are not highly comfortable with Halloween, start with one or two events for this month that your family would like to participate in. When using a calendar, mark off the days that have passed and inform your child about the upcoming event. When the event is approaching and you are informing your child once more, you will know best when they would like to be informed again. In my experience, I worked with children who would like to be informed again a week ahead whereas others preferred to be informed the day before.
- Use Social Stories
It may be also helpful to present social stories about what happens during Halloween. You can create visual stories about what is expected for trick or treating and other Halloween activities. If you are pressed for time, this website does provide free Halloween social stories. Some of my other favorites are the PowerPoint from Autism Speaks and a video presenting the activity for Trick or Treating. Go over the social stories together with your child and after going through each part, review, and roleplay these scenarios.
- Do Roleplays for Practice and Reinforce their Approximations
After going over the social stories, it is helpful to roleplay these events with your child to present the expectations for Halloween. This will take multiple practices and it may be best to schedule a time when you can practice the social stories with your child. When you do the roleplays with your child, have fun with them! In my experience, I found that children who are very motivated when practicing are effective in learning new skills. During the roleplays, when you notice your child is reaching an approximation of that expectation, praise and reinforce it! Praising and reinforcing those approximations can encourage your child to continue the skill.
- Gradually Expose Costumes and Decorations
If your child is uncomfortable with scary Halloween items, you can gradually present these items to your child and briefly explain that they are not real. You can also combine this with the social stories during the explanations that others will wear costumes and that some decorations can be nice or scary.
- Provide choices
If your child is getting more comfortable with the idea of Halloween and participating in trick or treating, you can provide choices on whether they would like to wear a costume or wear regular clothing that’s Halloween-themed. If your child chooses to wear regular clothing that is still Halloween-themed, that’s ok! What’s important is that they have fun during trick or treating. If your child chooses to wear a costume, keep in mind the clothing materials in a costume if your child is highly sensitive to certain clothing materials. For costumes, think about your child’s favorite characters and select 2 costumes that your child may like to choose.
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