Autism, travel, parenting and mental health

Navigating Your Spectrum with Halloween Costumes

Navigating Your Spectrum with Halloween Costumes
Most of my content has been pretty travel specific until now, but with Halloween coming up its time to start prepping the autistic people in your life. I thought a quick guide to the introduction of costumes could be useful. My kiddos have had issues with costumes in the past; we’ve had some successes and some failures. When they were babies it was easy because I could just put them in whatever baby costumes, and they would be fine. As they got older and their sensory issues became more noticeable we had to change how we did Halloween. Here are some quick tips for adapting Halloween costumes for the special needs people in your life.

Always start with Introducing first

If Halloween is something that your kiddos are into or would like, start with showing them cartoons or social stories about Halloween. One of the best ways to prep is by showing them episodes of their favorite cartoons Halloween episodes. Always let them know that it is their choice if they want to wear a costume. Don’t push, this will only create negative association with the holiday.

Give them a few choices

Once they get the concept of Halloween costumes, and express the interest in them, the next step is to pick a costume! Many kiddos will have no problem with this task as they will know immediately who they want to go as. But sometimes choices, and decision making can be difficult for people on the spectrum. So give them some choices, we usually will pick 1-2 characters that my kiddo is into and let him pick. In the past we have presented them with photos so that they could point (before middle kiddo started talking).

Try to get the whole family involved

Making Halloween comfortable takes effort and thought. But it is so much easier to get your kiddos involved if you show them. Halloween at our house is a family affair, my husband and I dress up every year. I really feel that this has helped my kiddos feel comfortable with the holiday. Plus with the popularity of the character onesies everyone in the family can just wear PJs as costumes! You can read more about our costumes here

Make adaptable costumes

Now before you think I’m telling you to learn how to sew, that’s not what I mean! But costumes can be whatever you want. If the store bought costumes bother your kiddo try something else. We try to stay away from masks altogether because my kiddos are not comfortable wearing them for long. Try making something practical. I have cut up sweat pants and shirts to make comfy costumes, I’ve used beanies to glue on designs and used puffy paint to just paint a design on it for costumes. These are much more likely to stay on! Bonus, they also keep your head warm.
Halloween is not for everyone. Some kiddos don’t enjoy the spooky vibes that comes with it. It takes preparation, planning and patience. It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s holiday and costumes don’t have to be trendy or store bought. In today’s world of social media we all want those cute pictures of our kiddos in costumes. You can have those too if you like. Just go slow, start prepping early and don’t push. If your kiddo has interest Halloween but not in costumes, try finding t-shirts or other adaptive costumes. Above all don’t stress, Halloween is a fun holiday and costumes, trick or treating and even the spooky vibes are required for it. Don’t try to have a Halloween you envision, instead try for a Halloween where everyone is comfortable and happy! 
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