How to make Halloween fun for your child with autism

Dr. Fauci encourages Americans to enjoy Halloween safely.Dr. Fauci encourages Americans to enjoy Halloween safely.As weekly averages of Covid-19 cases decline across the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci says celebrations such as trick-or-treating are now safe to enjoy.As weekly averages of COVID-19 cases decline across the United States, Fauci says celebrations such as trick-or-treating are now safe to enjoy.I think that, particularly if you're vaccinated, you can get out there… You're outdoors for the most part, at least when my children were out there doing trick-or-treating, and enjoy it.., Dr. Anthony Fauci, via Business Insider.I think that, particularly if you're vaccinated, you can get out there… You're outdoors for the most part, at least when my children were out there doing trick-or-treating, and enjoy it.., Dr. Anthony Fauci, via Business Insider.... this is a time of the year that children love. It's a very important part of the year for children, Dr. Anthony Fauci, via Business Insider.Fauci implied it’s too early to declare victory over the virus, continuing to urge the importance of vaccines.On the one hand, we do want to celebrate and look forward to the fact that we are going in the right direction… , Dr. Anthony Fauci, via Business Insider.but if you look at the history of the surges and the diminutions in cases over a period of time, they can bounce back, Dr. Anthony Fauci, via Business Insider.On Thursday, the weekly number of coronavirus infections in the United States fell below 100,000.As the holiday season approaches, 68 million eligible Americans have yet to receive a coronavirus vaccine.The COVID-19 pandemic has reached death tolls of 716,000 in the United States and more than 4 million more around the globe

With effort and practice, parents can include all their children in the holiday

Trick-or-treating is back this year, with the full endorsement of the government’s top infectious diseases expert. Dr. Anthony Fauci said it’s an important time of year for children, so “go out there” and “enjoy it.”

For children on the autism spectrum, participating in Halloween activities can be more tricky than treaty, but with a some patience and practice, most children should be able to have a good time.

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“When we think about autism spectrum disorder, we think that the signs of autism can look very different from person to person,” said Dr. Nicole Hendrix, psychologist in clinical assessment and diagnosis and early intervention at the Marcus Autism Center. “Some of the areas we might be thinking about that could be challenging for a child on the spectrum could be, for example, sensory differences or changes in routines to go trick-or-treating, and anxieties that could come with that.”

Hendrix recommends families start thinking about which areas might be more challenging for a child and how to respond to them to help your child and family have a great time.

Chris Booth, a licensed master social worker and lead clinical care coordinator at the Marcus Autism Center, agreed.

“A great first recommendation that I talk with families about all the time, regardless of holiday, is if their children are receiving any therapies, any sort of therapy related to having a child on the autism spectrum, that they can talk with their child’s therapist or practice party routines during therapy,” she said. “A lot of therapeutic clinics have holiday celebrations where they may walk around and practice trick-or-treating before the actual day.”

Booth said parents should have open communication with therapists about how their child succeeded during the simulation and how they can repeat that at home on the holiday.

“Some children with autism thrive in a party atmosphere,” Hendrix said, “and some are overwhelmed or they prefer to do things more independently. But I think the idea of practice, whether it be through therapeutic support or school-based support, or even at home, is right.”

She suggested dressing your child in a costume and going to a couple of houses. “Let’s do it. Let’s do it and talk through it and see how that goes,” she said, “even within a 10 to 15 minute timeframe. Was that really challenging for your child? Or did it seem to go pretty well?”

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Booth stressed that no matter how much planning and practice you do, when it comes time for the actual event, you need to be flexible.

“Halloween, or whatever the holiday, is when there’s a lot more people out and a lot more noise and stimuli,” she said. “If we need to cut it short, that’s OK. Success can look really different year to year, and holiday to holiday. We want people to have some of these tips to find what success looks like for their family.”

Costumes can be another challenge for children, Brooks and Hendrix said.

Family and caregivers generally are aware of fabrics and accessories a child tends to stay away from or be uncomfortable in because of different sensory needs, Booth said.

“But we still have plenty of time between now and Halloween to practice or try out the costumes,” she said. She recommends picking a character costume your child has a strong interest in.

“But even if it’s having a routine of wearing it on the weekends or letting children get comfortable in it, I think practice will definitely help,” she said. “Make it a fun routine of putting the costume on and practice walking around the neighborhood a little bit. I think that’ll make caregivers feel more confident, the child feel more confident, and probably bring a smile to all the neighbors.”

For some kids who are sensitive to their face or head being touched, you’ll want to avoid masks, Hendrix said. “In general Halloween costumes are not the most comfortable fabrics for any of us. So maybe we wear pajamas with those characters on them.”

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If you’re still unsure how to prepare your child, Booth recommends checking out one of the many support groups for parents and caregivers who have a child on the autism spectrum.

“Those support groups can be wonderful resources for caregivers to connect with other people who have lots of experience doing this,” she said. You can also find community events around the holidays that are geared for children on the autism spectrum.

The important thing to remember, Hendrix said, is “this is all about creating meaningful traditions for your family that are fun for everyone. Sometimes traditions that work for other families don’t work for yours, and that’s entirely fine as long as we’re finding a match of what the child enjoys and what the family would like to get out of a holiday.”

Safety tips for trick-or-treating fun for children with autism spectrum disorder

  • Avoid scratchy costumes, face painting and masks, especially if your child has texture sensitivities. Remember to have your child try on the costume in advance and practice wearing it at home.
  • Practice at home by having your child knock on the door to say “trick-or-treat” and giving them healthy goodies. If need be, limit the amount of time spent or number of places your child will visit.
  • If your child has trouble communicating, have them hand out cards to the people who answer the doors at the houses they visit. Bring along useful supplies such as a flashlight for safety, earplugs or earphones to block out loud noises, and a favorite item for comfort.
  • Practice greeting trick-or-treaters at your door and giving out or receiving candy. Or, if you’re worried visitors might come too late, leave a basket of treats on the porch with instructions not to ring your doorbell.

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