Prepping For SENSORY Halloween experiences
If your child has a sensitive sensory system, it’s best to prep them for new experiences and they can ground themselves and self-regulate before hand. Perhaps jumping on the trampoline, or on the couch if that’s your thing, before going Trick-of-Treating will help cam them. Talk to them before scary characters jump out of the bushes, or watch YouTube videos of carving pumpkins so they’re aware that the pumpkin guts are slimy and full of seeds.
Pick a costume with your child that caters to their sensory preferences.
Do they love heavy vests and blankets? Than perhaps a heavy costume will be beneficial like the Hulk or you can weigh down that Woody vest.
Does your child hate hats or anything touching their head? Then a costume that covers them from the neck down is best.
What about scratchy fabrics or seams? Take time to cover those with a soft fabric or purchase an undergarment that will protect their highly reactive skin.
Do they have concerns about people hugging or touching them? Some kids do not like other people in their personal space and so cardboard box costumes can be favorable. There are so many great options we’ve listen on our Pinterest page for anyone who wants to DIY. If you prefer to purchase a costume, perhaps Minecraft, a box of Crayons, or Nerds, a robot, an iPod, will give your child a feeling of safety and security. There are many to choose from that can keep your child’s core and trunk protected. They may not want to wear the hat or helmet and that’s okay, the costume neck down is enough. Or if they want to do a joint costume with a friend then maybe peanut butter & Jelly would be fun (the costumes are NOT connected). *Please find amazon.com affiliate links below.
Are most costumes too complicated for your child and bulky? Try pajama costumes from the Disney store where your child can be Doc McStuffins or Buzz Lightyear (amazon.com affiliate links provided) and then climb directly into bed. Huge bonus is they can wear these jammies all winter. Score!
Does your child need fidgets? Something in their hands to keep them focused and calm? Try props! If they’re going to be a clown arm them with fidget balls to juggle. If they’re going to be a zookeeper, let them carry a lion stuffed animal (or their favorite). I’m a huge fan of the Harry Potty Wizard trio, and wizards in general – give them a wand.
Here are some Halloween Costume MISTAKES I have made in the past.
I purchased a Gingy costume that my son loved, but the head was too big and kept falling over. We had to put metal coat hangers to keep it up. Epic FAIL, he refused to wear it. Make sure the costume isn’t too big or heavy!
Sharp weapons (or any weapons). My son prefers to have his hands occupied, but a sword is a horrible idea, especially around other little kids. Keep the props limited to safe toys and fidgets.
Too hot!?!? While some costumes are adorable, they’re just to hot, especially inside with heaters on. Error on the side of cool when picking a costume as kids get overheated when they’re excited and running around. Pick breathable fabrics if possible.
Sensory Play and Crafts
Carving and decorating pumpkins is a fabulous Fall tradition for many families. Get your sensory craving kiddos to dig deep in the pumpkin with their hands, feeling the slimy goo and textures of pumpkin guts and seeds. If they are touch adverse, perhaps rubber gloves or even a Ziplock bag over your child’s hand will ease them into tolerating the feel of pumpkin insides. Make sure to supervise any young child when using plastic bags!
There are endless amounts of sensory play for the holidays. Sensory bins full of plastic spiders, licorice ropes, squishy eyeballs, and cotton balls ghost droppings. Pumpkin Playdough to strengthen their fingers for fine motor activities and stimulate their olfactory sense. Check out our Pinterest Sensory Holiday board for more ideas.
Follow Peace Autism And Love’s board Sensory Holidays on Pinterest.
As always, ease your SPD child into sensory activities as forcing only creates fear. Often kids will be motivated by fun and new activities, so just show them a few and see what they gravitate towards. If they’re terrified of being wrapped in toilet paper to look like a Mummy, then save that for a year when they’re able to tolerate the touch of Charmin on their skin. Sometimes they will want to watch you play first, to see that it is safe and won’t harm them. Perhaps you can play calming music in the background and keep the lights dim as to not overstimulate.
With all things sensory, people need breaks and a cut off time when everyone calls it a day and goes home. Don’t push your child to their sensory limits this month because it takes our bodies too long to recover. Plan to Trick-or-Treat for an hour if you think that is all your child can tolerate. Or visit a Halloween party for 45 minutes and then disappear. Set a time when you will turn off your porch light and stop answering the door, leaving your bowl of candy outside for the neighborhood kids to swoop up. Remember that all good things come to an end and it’s better to end the night on a successful note then to wait for a meltdown. Please find our article on Autism and Halloween! And our Disneyland Halloween article here.