Halloween can be an exciting and fun time for kids. But a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may not enjoy the hectic goings on. ASD kids are sensitive to routine changes and do not adapt quickly or easily to them.
Halloween related activities assault all their senses. Costume fabrics can be itchy and masks are too uncomfortable to tolerate. Loose costume parts can be distracting and confusing. Blinking lights, candles flickering, and strange colored lights, costumes, and make up can be scary. Loud noises from spooky music, kids running and yelling, and all the coming and going over stimulate many kids. The smells and tastes of candy and party foods ASD kids aren’t used to can make them ill. They can easily lose their fragile self-control and parents may have a child melt down to deal with.
Gradually getting ASD kids used to the unusual activities and items of Halloween through social stories is one way to help ease their fears and uneasiness. Many simple stories are available online for download and printing. One advantage of this method is that kids can color or highlight on the home oriented pages, fill in blanks in stories, and otherwise customize then for individual ownership. Pathfinders for Autism recommends some sites.
This social story for home printing talks about practicing trick or treat techniques such as looking for a welcoming house, ringing the doorbell, saying, “Trick or treat,” and thanking the giver for candy. It also addressed safety rules. These activities can be practiced after reading, and since the story is home printed, parents and the child can mark off skills when they are learned. Kids can also role play being the candy giver, so they can have additional social skill practice.
This site offers a complete package of downloadable social stories for ASD kids for only $4.95. Topics include safety rules for trick or treating, trick or treating, staying with a grown up, saying hi, saying thank you, and the Halloween pumpkin. A free pumpkin pattern booklet is included.
Youtube has a link on how to create an interactive social story for an ASD child.
Another great source is your public library. Children’s librarians are wonderful resources for age appropriate stories. Most children’s rooms have pulled Halloween books together for easy perusal. Some place a borrowing time limit of a week or so, ensuring that desired titles will be available to many users.
Librarians can also help parents peruse selections and find buying resources, such as Amazon in case parents wish to purchase their own books. many are available as ebooks, and some may be interactive on a tablet or computer.
With a little panning and practice, Halloween can be a fun time for an ASD child.
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