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  • Writer's pictureLight the Way Therapy

Sensory Friendly Halloween Costume Ideas

Halloween can be a daunting time for parents with children with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Choosing a costume can be so difficult, I often find that parents are saying they would rather skip Halloween altogether!

These preparation suggestions and sensory-friendly costume ideas will allow your child to celebrate the Holiday with your family and most importantly be able to participate in Halloween festivities by dressing up.

Halloween Costume Ideas:

* Instead of a "formal costume", many stores carry character themed sweatshirts/pajamas. This allows for your child to wear clothes they are already comfortable with but also be in character. If your child does not like "footie" pajamas, you can simply cut off the feet and allow them to wear their normal shoes.

* Add clothes underneath. Some costume fabric may be too scratchy for your child. Add clothes they are familiar with underneath their costume and buy the costume a few sizes larger to accommodate the layering. Also, if your child cannot tolerate tags- simply cut them off before having your child try it on.

- If your child wears a compression vest. Add this to their base layer and remember to size up on their costume to accommodate the vest.

* Sizing- Depending on your child's sensory processing disorder, some love the pressure of clothing being too tight and others may not be able to tolerate tight clothing. If your child is sensory seeking- you may want to think about buying their costume a size too small so it is snug to their skin.

* Avoid masks/Face-Paint. Some children with SPD will not tolerate anything covering their face, so you may not want to waste your money on a costume that includes a mask. Alternatives to this could be a character themed hat.

* DIY!! When I was younger, we created so many great costumes out of things we already had. A scarecrow out of an old pair of overalls, a witch or a cat with a simple black dress and leggings , etc. Get creative! Allow your child to help you plan out the costume. Ask them what they'd want to be and go through their closet to pick out items to see what would work.

* Use accessories to your advantage! Any simple outfit can be dressed up with Halloween accessories- a light up necklace, cat ear headband, ties- the list goes on! If your child uses a chewy necklace, fidget, or noise cancelling earphones- think of creative ways to incorporate those into their costume.

* Wash or clean your child's costume before wearing it. Some costumes/masks may have a weird odor that will turn your child off to putting it on. Wash the costume or mask with your regular laundry detergent, so the scent is familiar to them.

Preparation Suggestions:

* Encourage your child to practice putting on their costume and wearing it multiple times before trick-or-treating. Help them at first and continue to fade your assistance each time. This will get them familiar to putting their costume on and taking it off and will help them build up tolerance to wearing it. It will also make the "day-of" easier for you if they can aid with putting it on.

* Practice trick-or-treating! Again, this practice will build up your child's tolerance and the repeated practice of the steps will make them familiar with what to do on the night of Halloween. Start small- practice in your house, then in the backyard, then at their Grandparent's house, and maybe even at an understanding neighbor's or family member's house. Talk about what they need to do. If needed, consult with your child's SLP or OT about making a visual schedule to help them understand.

Steps can include: Walk up to house, knock on door, say "trick-or-treat", hold bag out for candy, say "thank you" and "Happy Halloween", etc.

* On Halloween, consider going trick-or-treating in a familiar neighborhood- even if it is only a few houses. Going to a completely new place may negatively trigger your child.

I hope these tips and tricks put you at ease and give you some peace of mind when preparing for Halloween. This holiday should be filled with frightful fun and being prepared will allow your child to participate in all the spooky festivities Halloween has to offer!

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