How I Help My Autistic Son Enjoy Halloween

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Last year was the first Halloween that Logan truly enjoyed. There was a lot of prep work that went into getting Logan to the point where he could actually enjoy Halloween. His first couple Halloween experiences were just not enjoyable, melt-down inducing, and just plain terrible.

I love little celebrations and I wanted Logan to enjoy things that other little kids were doing. I didn’t know before Logan’s diagnosis of autism, how to help him. The blessing is, I do now. We have a couple weeks before Halloween and we are already talking about Halloween adventures and trick or treating. What kid doesn’t love candy?

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Choosing the Right Costume

I had to figure out what about Halloween was overwhelming for Logan. One issue was the costumes that I had been picking for Logan. I had been dressing Logan in costumes that I thought were cute and well doing the mom thing. However, Logan’s sensory processing disorder affects what kind of clothes he wears.  So, costumes just weren’t cutting it. There were many costumes that he tried on and quickly ripped them off saying “it’s itchy”. That is  Logan’s code words for clothing that he doesn’t like the feel of against his body. I knew that he wasn’t going to be Buzz Lightyear or that cute little robot.

Autistic Boy and Girl on Halloween

I got online and looked around for costumes that were made of a softer material. Surprise! Not a lot of sensory Halloween costumes. I felt defeated, until Olivia told me she wanted to be Moana. While conducting the search for her costume I found a Maui pajama set that could easily pass for a costume.

A simple shirt and pants, when I showed Logan the pajamas he quickly ran off, only to return with his Maui hook. He looked at me and smiled and said “Mom, I’m going to be Maui” Perfect!! Getting Logan involved in picking his costume helped bring tons of excitement about trick or treating as well as lots of Moana and Maui songs.

There are lots of fun pajamas that could easily pass off as a costume and help children with sensory issues. There are cows, Chewbacca, skeletons, Power Rangers, Iron Man, The Hulk, Woody, astronaut, The Black Pantherunicorns, and even pandas. There are also shirts that say”This is my costume” for children with sensory issues that can not tolerate any type of costume.  A Halloween hoodie or a simple superhero cape can also help children with sensory issues dress up in their own way.

Knowing What to Expect

I always start early by talking to Logan early about Halloween and trick or treating. I explained what Halloween was and what we would do. I explained that we would walk to our neighbors’ houses, ring the doorbell, say trick or treat and get a piece of candy. This year I wrote him a social story to read each night before trick or treating to help Logan be aware of the expectations of trick or treating. Doing this beforehand makes things easier for all of us.

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Clear Expectations

I had to come to terms with my own expectations. I couldn’t just take Logan out for hours and hours of trick or treating. I had to realize that maybe he could only tolerate visiting a couple houses. I had to take into consideration that the lights, noises, and costumes just may be too much sensory input for him.

We built up to a couple of houses, then worked up to a street and that seems to be the perfect trick or treating amount for him.

Knowing that Logan might not enjoy trick or treating or that he might need breaks, helps our whole family with being on the same page.  Having expectations decreases the amount of frustration immensely.


5 children trick or treating

There are lots of local trick or treating events that are available around our local community during the month of October. These events provide an excellent opportunity to practice trick or treating.

There are a couple truck or treats at schools and churches, trick or treating in the mall, and even our downtown area does a large trick or treating event.

I took Logan to a lot of these events, some of them were successful some not so much. I try to include his cousins in these events because he is comfortable with them and feels safe doing some of the things they do.

The practice really helped Logan know what to expect and get used to his costume. He and Olivia also practiced around the house as well with their buckets shouting “trick or treat” to each other and putting toys in their plastic pumpkin containers.

Have a Plan and Be Flexible

Autistic Boy Painting Pumpkin

I always try to have a plan B and sometimes a plan C, and more times than often a plan D. That is just life with kids. I know depending on Logan’s mood that he might not want to trick or treat and that’s okay.

There are plenty of other ways we can enjoy Halloween together. I always know that I can have Logan help my pass out candy to the other trick or treaters. I also can plan for some family members to come over and have them sit at the doors in our house and have Logan trick or treat inside our own home.

Another backup plan is our family dressing up together and going to a quiet restaurant for Logan’s favorite pizza.  However, if Logan isn’t in the mood to trick or treat or leave the house then we can always carve or paint pumpkins.

Sometimes traditions can change, all that matters is everyone is together having an enjoyable time.

With some planning, clear expectations, the right costume, and a little flexibility, trick or treating can be enjoyable and fun for your family.

What Halloween festivities are you and your family looking forward to the most? Comment below and share your favorite events and traditions? Who knows, maybe your tradition might become their new tradition.


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