By Delaney Francis on Oct 19, 2020 2:39:00 PM
Halloween can be stressful for a child with autism spectrum disorder. Preparation is key. If your child participates in center based applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, your child may already be learning about the fall season and Halloween. While Halloween may look different this year, there are still many treats and options available to have fun with your child. Be sure to practice safe social distancing and follow proper safety protocol.
Here are Circle City ABA's have five tips to have a successful Halloween!
1. Have your child practice wearing their costume
Before the night of Halloween, have your child practice wearing their costume. Wearing costumes can be uncomfortable for children with autism. It is important to let your child go at their own pace when trying on their costume.
By practicing wearing their costume before Halloween or an event such as Trunk or Treat, your child can become familiar with their costume. You may find that you need to make adjustments to the costume based on your child's experience.
2. Practice walking through the neighborhood
When you practice walking through your neighborhood before Halloween, you can troubleshoot problems that may occur. Several unanticipated situations may occur during your practice walk. Get creative with the practice walk and bring your own candy or treats with you for a reward. Aim for progress, not perfection. There is not a right or wrong way to trick or treat. As long as your child has a fun experience, that is what matters most.
3. Talk about Halloween with your child
It is helpful to talk to your child about what happens on Halloween. Mention to them what they may see or expect. For example, you may see other people dressed in costumes. You may decide to mention that some costumes may be scary while other costumes may be funny or similar to theirs.
If you are unsure how to discuss this with your child, we recommend talking to your BCBA for tips. You may find that in center-based ABA therapy, Halloween and fall activities may be incorporated and discussed during therapy.
4. Role-play, role-play, role-play
Have fun and trick or treat at home! First, have your child dress up. Then, you can have your child practice knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell. You may find they need assistance or want to do the task independently. Working together with your child is an excellent learning opportunity. After this, you can work with your child on asking for candy. Remember that asking for candy and saying trick or treat does not look the same for each child.
Role-playing is a great opportunity for your child to work on communication skills. If your child communicates through a speech-generating device, have them practice requesting for candy on their device. If your child communicates through gestures or sign language, have them request for candy using gestures or signs. You can also practice having them say thank you.
5. Talk about the rules of Halloween
It is helpful to talk to your child about the rules of Halloween. Some examples are:
1. You must stay with me when we are walking in the neighborhood
2. Walk on the sidewalk
3. Knock on the door
4. Wait for the door to open
5. Stay outside
To help your child remember, you can have them recite the rules back to you. If your child has difficulty reciting rules back to you, it may help to incorporate the rules into a second round of role-playing.