As we get closer to Halloween, tons of activities are ramping up. For children with special needs, this can be an overwhelming time of year, but we can still help them have a good time.

Here are some ideas to make Halloween a fun and comfortable time for all children.

Prepare Early

Stores, schools, and neighborhoods have spooky decorations everywhere, so make sure your child understands what is happening. Point out new decorations and explain why they’re there, or use storytelling to prepare your child for Halloween costumes and activities at school. 

Explain to your child that costumes are made up of clothing and props, nothing magical or scary. Masks in particular can seem scary, since they morph someone’s face. Games like peek a boo can help children with special needs to understand that the same face is still behind the mask.

Find An Accessible Halloween Costume

Between sensory overstimulation while trick-or-treating to costumes that don’t allow access for feeding tubes and other vital equipment, Halloween costumes are not always suited for children with disabilities.

The easiest and cheapest way to find a Halloween costume for your child with special needs is to DIY it. Need a hole for a feeding tube? Simply cut a hole in a shop-bought costume. Want a costume that works with a wheelchair? Incorporate the chair by making it part of the costume, like decorating it like a pirate boat carrying its intrepid captain! Worried about your child with sensory issues who isn’t a fan of unfamiliar fabrics? Buy a festive pair of pajamas in their favorite brand!

Role Play Trick-or-Treating

Walking your child through your neighborhood and explaining what will happen during trick or treating is an excellent way to try and reduce stress on Halloween. As above, preparation is key. 

Try roleplaying with family members and trusted friends to simulate trick-or-treating and give examples of what language they might encounter. Importantly, be sure to emphasize that this is only appropriate on Halloween, not all year round.

Try Blue Pumpkin Buckets as a Costume for an Autistic Child

Started by a British mom and supported by the National Autism Association, using blue buckets shaped like pumpkins to hold candy or other treats subtly tell people that the bucket-holder is on the autism spectrum. It’s a great way for kids with special needs to let others know that they may not communicate in the same ways children without special needs would typically communicate on Halloween.

Do It Your Way on Halloween!

You know your child best. Don’t be afraid to shove tradition aside and celebrate Halloween in a way that ensures they have the most fun. If that means staying in with a favorite movie and snacks instead of trick or treating—so be it!

You could invite friends and family over to make sure your child feels included and prioritize having fun over doing what everyone else is doing.

If you need any other help or advice about looking after a child with special needs, at Halloween or any other time of year, don’t hesitate to reach out to Best Care. We’re always here to help!

Two young brothers dressed as superheroes for Halloween.