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Putting the “happy” back in Happy Halloween!

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Most children will tell you, the best part of Halloween is trick-or-treating! However, many children who have an articulation, social language or sensory processing disorder find that trick-or-treating can be a difficult and anxiety inducing activity. There are a few simple ways to help ease some of that stress.

 

1. Find the right costume.

  • Before the big night, talk about costumes. Practice trying on new or dress-up clothing to make sure they’re comfortable.
  • If your child has strong reactions to costumes or specific fabrics, try themed pajamas instead.


2. Practice the verbal script associated with trick-or-treating.

  • Say “trick-or-treat” and “thank you.”
  • If your child has difficulty with articulation, practice words they can use instead. (e.g. “Happy Ha(llo)ween!”)

3. Discuss and practice the routine of trick-or-treating. A written social story may be beneficial for some children.

  • First, knock on the door or ring the bell.
  • Then say, “Trick-or-treat!”
  • Take only one piece of candy unless offered more.
  • Then say, “Thank you!”
  • Next, you walk to the next house.

4. Remember to discuss any rules that may be implied.

  • We only trick-or-treat between 6 and 8 p.m.
  • Only go to houses with their lights on.
  • Stay outside of a person’s home.
  • Say “thank you” and move on to the next house/do not engage in long conversation that may hold up a line.
  • Quietly wait behind any children already at the door.
  • We walk on paths and look for cars when crossing the street.
  • It is okay not to like another person’s costume, but we do not tell them that.

5. Practice trick-or-treating at home. As they say, practice makes perfect (or at least progress!).

  • Set up a pretend bowl of candy behind a bathroom or bedroom door.
  • Get into a costume (can be their actual costume or just dress-up clothes). Then help your child pretend to trick-or-treat!

Trick-or-treating can be a new, anxiety-causing experience for many children who have special needs, but by talking about and teaching what’s expected, you can turn the event into something that is understandable and fun. Now that your child knows the “rules,” has practiced, and knows the language, trick-or-treating will be more enjoyable for everyone.