It’s that time of year again! Getting any child into a Halloween costume can be tricky (some love costumes, some don't), and if you're child has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it could be even trickier. Here are a few strategies on planning ahead for social, communication and sensory issues that might arise when you and your child are preparing to put on the Halloween costume:
Use comfortable clothes as a base for costumes. No one likes wearing uncomfortable clothing, but it can be especially distracting for kids with ASD. Simple clothing is best to start (i.e. sweatpants and a t-shirt or any clothes they like), and then feel free to gradually add on more festive items, such as capes and makeup, to bring the costume to life.
Experiment with accessories and makeup before the big event. You may think wearing scary and creative makeup during this time of year is sure to be fun, but these items may not be such a hit with your sensory-sensitive child. So instead of waiting until the event, try on the entire costume, including face paint and accessories, ahead of time. See how it goes and make adjustments from there so you're ready for the big night.
Have a backup plan. No matter how adorable a costume may look, don’t force it if it’s clear you're child can't tolerate it. A simple character T-shirt may work just as well as a full-body costume. Also try to avoid unnecessary sensory triggers, such as uncomfortable masks, make-up and paint, if a known tactile sensitivity exists.
Consider individual interests and choices when planning this year’s costume. Think about favorite characters, movies, etc. Then provide your child with communication assistance in making choices as needed. The use of visuals or voice output communication aids can be helpful.
Use social narratives and strategies to explain the purposes of a costume and costume etiquette. Gaining a better understanding of the costume can help make your child a bit more comfortable for the big event.