Creating a Safe & Accessible Halloween
Strobe lights might seem fun to create a “scary” atmosphere, but they are not safe for those with epilepsy or sensory sensitivities to lights. Strobe lights can trigger seizures and migraines. Lanterns and soft, glowing lights are a safer alternative that will let ALL know that they are welcome.
There is a difference between “spooky” and “scary”. For kids, Halloween should be spooky and not terrifying. If you are giving out candy or having a “haunted house” or party, there is a difference between a scary character holding a bowl of candy and a scary character jumping up and trying to grab you. It’s not funny or cute to make a child cry because they are afraid. Children need to feel safe and accepted. Even on “spooky” holidays.
Please remember that with Autistic children, even those children who do use “verbal speech” regularly, talking can be difficult and take a lot of energy. Forcing children to say “trick or treat” or “thank you” at every house can be exhausting. Autistic children are not being rude, they are doing the best they can. If a child comes to your house, party, gathering, etc. and doesn’t respond to you by using verbal speech, do not make a big deal about it! Consider using communication cards to support your kids on Halloween.
Many Autistic children have strong preferences. Kids are not being rude if they refuse candy or dig trying to find a favored item. They are just kids, not miniature adults.
Planning to visit “safe” houses, those of family and friends might be a less intense alternative than going door to door.
Remember that Halloween means a break in routine and a lot more sensory input! Autistic children may need even more down time than usual. Also, it’s important to remember that we sometimes process things slower or on a different time frame than non-Autistic people. We might need a lot longer to “recover” than you think!
This is about children having fun, not about your expectations of what the holiday needs to look like. Let the kids have fun in their own way, and have fun with them!
Most importantly, BE FLEXIBLE! Be willing to change your plans and open to celebrating Halloween in unexpected and Autistic ways!
Posted on October 1, 2014, in Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.