5 Ways to Help Children with Sensory Challenges Participate in Halloween Festivities
3. Trick-or-Treating can be pleasant, up to a point.
Practice the sequence of walking to the door, saying “trick or treat,” putting the treat in the bag and offering “thank you” at homes of familiar neighbors. Children may benefit from starting early and avoiding the dark. Consider trick-or-treating on quiet streets or only at homes of family and friends to keep the comfort level high. Skip homes with flashing lights, loud noises, and especially scary decorations. Review and rehearse street crossing. Eating candy while trick-or-treating can pose a choking hazard or trigger allergies. Determine the ground rules on indulging before leaving home.
4. Cater to your child’s preferences throughout the day.
Some children will seek opportunities to touch “eyeballs” and pumpkin innards because they enjoy touching wet or squishy textures. Other children will prefer to keep their hands dry by decorating jack-o-lanterns with stickers and markers rather than carving. Devise strategies ahead of time by inquiring what party activities will be offered. For example, a child who may not like bobbing for apples could participate by putting the apples in the bucket. Consider planning an event with a few friends, and save large parties for the future.
5. There’s no place like home.
Know when to stop the festivities. Look for signs of sensory overload in your child—fatigue, hyper-excitability, crying, and combativeness. Often, children like handing out the candy just as much as receiving it.
For more ideas, download (in English and Spanish) AOTA’s Tips for Enjoying Halloween with Sensory Challenges.
Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the professional interests and concerns of more than 213,000 occupational therapists, assistants, and students nationwide. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations, and serving as an advocate to improve health care. Based in Bethesda, Md., AOTA’s major programs and activities are directed toward promoting the professional development of its members and assuring consumer access to quality services so patients can maximize their individual potential. For more information, go to www.aota.org