Halloween is upon us again, and I always write some tips for parents dealing with autism during this season. I had a picture sent to me recently that had some good advice, not just for children with autism, but other disabilities and for the others in the neighborhood who hand out the confections to the kids. I thought that I would share it with you.
The first one says: “The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy may have poor fine motor skills.” Don’t forget that reaching into a bag full of goodies can be challenge for a child who can’t grip a pencil right, or grasp a spoon just right. Don’t scold them for having too many items.
“The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy may have motor planning issues.” It takes Konner a few seconds to process information when it is presented to him. Have patience with children. It may take them a little longer to decide, first what they are supposed to be doing, and then what they want.
“The child who does not say trick or treat may be non-verbal.” If they can’t talk you can’t hold that against them. They are not being rude, just being themselves.
“The child who looks disappointed when they see your bowl might have an allergy or be diabetic.” It’s always a good idea to have some alternatives for children with either of these issues. Some parents won’t even let their children go out on Halloween because of this. It’s a good idea to think about the allergies when picking out goodies ahead of time.
“The child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have a sensory issue (SPD) or autism.” If underwear have teeth, then a costume with lights, lots of plastic, and a mask could feel like hooks digging into their skin and face. Don’t shun a child, or become rude if they are not wearing anything. An idea for a parent may be just to put a festive shirt on instead. Something that says Happy Halloween, or just boo.
These are just a couple ideas. Be nice and be patient.
Don’t forget that Halloween is supposed to be a fun time of year for all children. Those with social and sensory issues can have a hard time with all of the mingling involved in going from house to house and talking to strangers. Please don’t make it a spooky time for them.
Kodey Toney is a parent of a child with autism. E-mail him with questions or ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org . You also can find all columns