Celebrating Halloween with a Child on the Spectrum

Halloween looks different for every child. Most children celebrate by putting on a fun costume and taking part in trick-or treating. Every child deserves to have fun and feel included, but for children on the autism spectrum, crowds and noise may be overstimulating, the costume may cause sensory issues, or they may not want to knock on their neighbor’s door for candy. To make Halloween a positive, fun experience for a child on the spectrum, consider these tips:


Let your child wear a costume that they love to get them excited for trick-or-treating. Consider the material of the store-bought costumes, the zipper or other closures, etc. Also, let them practice wearing their costume at home ahead of Halloween night to get used to it.


Give your child an idea of what to expect on Halloween night to better prepare them. This can include walking up to your front door, knocking and saying “trick-or-treat,” showing your child photos of lit up neighborhoods, and role playing with family members.

Sensory accommodations

Children on the spectrum may experience a sensory overload while trick-or-treating. This can be caused by large crowds, bright lights and loud noise. Consider allowing your child to ride in a wagon while trick-or-treating. This allows the child to participate but keep his or her distance from the crowds and bright lights. Also, consider the time of day that you will be trick or treating. Try to pick a time that is most likely to have the least number of people. Bring earplugs, headphones or comfort items to reduce the noise level and increase the comfort level for your child.

Alternatives to trick-or-treating

Some children may not be interested in trick-or-treating. There are still plenty of ways to celebrate the season. This can include making Halloween treats, playing Halloween-themed games, watching a “spooky” movie or passing out candy to trick-or-treaters. These activities allow you and your family to celebrate the day in the comfort of your own home.

The Power of Praise

As always, praise your child when they are doing well. This will increase the chances of your child continuing to practice positive behaviors. Be sure to point out exactly what they are doing right, for example “I love how you listen when I ask you to stay by my side.”

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