Help for Halloween & Half-Term!
It’s getting spooky and for many, Halloween falls in the middle of the Autumn half-term this year, so the likelihood of avoiding ghosts, ghouls, witches and lots of sugar is slim!
In our special Halloween blog, we want to embrace all the positive things about Halloween as well as make you aware that as well as being a great time for children to get involved in lots of different activities, it can also be a period of sensory overload for many children. If your child is affected in this way, then we have tips and advice to help the whole family enjoy the next few weeks.
Sensory Overload – what the experts say i.e. parents like YOU!
- Create a visual story of what Halloween may be like for your child, with some pictures or drawings. This will help your child prepare for the day’s activities.
- Try on costumes before Halloween. If the costume is uncomfortable or doesn’t fit right, it may cause unnecessary distress and ruin their fun.
- If your child does not like their costume, don’t make them wear it. Instead, talk about the situation with your child and try to uncover the reason why they don’t like it. After you talk with your child, they may gradually get used to the costume. Have them wear it for short periods of time and at increasing intervals before the day.
- Consider a Halloween costume that fits over your child’s regular clothes, such as butterfly wings or capes.
- Practice going to a neighbour’s door, ringing the bell or knocking on the door and receiving sweets.
- If you are going trick-or-treating, it would be wise to check out your route first if possible.
- The party atmosphere can present many difficulties for a young person with autism. There may be games, bright lights, loud music and various social interactions they are unused to. Utilise the countdown idea and social stories again to prepare them for what is likely to happen. However, it is possible for autism and social events to mix provided the planning is in place.
- Know your child’s limits and do only what he or she can handle. For example, if your child is not comfortable trick-or-treating, you can start by going to three houses. Assess how your child is doing and build up to more houses the following year.
- Take your child to an activity in the community, such as a school festival or a neighbourhood party where the child is already comfortable and knows people.
- Partner with family and friends that your child already has a relationship with.
- The little battery-operated tea lights make for a much safer option than candles for lighting up pumpkins.
- If you are giving out sweets home, give your child the option to give out the sweets. During the day, practice greeting people and giving out sweets.
- If your child is afraid of going out at night, plan indoor or daytime Halloween activities.
- The UK is following the American tradition of leaving a signal or sign outside the front door if Halloween visitors are welcome i.e. a lit pumpkin. If you do not want your doorbell ringing all night, do not decorate your doorstep
You as the parent will know your child best and know what agitates them most and how best to cope. If they have something in particular that helps them stay calm, such as a toy or favourite music, have these ready just in case your child begins to feel upset.
If your child simply isn’t into the festivities then remember that this is also okay, not every child likes Halloween and they aren’t obliged to participate. Hopefully, by being as prepared as possible, your child will be able to relax and enjoy the festivities.
All Things Pumpkins!
- These no-carve pumpkin decorations from Parenting Special Needs magazine are ideal for younger children, too. From Frankenstein’s monster to a scary witch, these designs are easy to follow and fun to make!
- Families.com also shares a brilliant idea that doesn’t involve sharp knives.
- For children who can help you to carve pumpkins, Pinterest is a fantastic resource for spooky inspiration, and many pins come complete with instructions. Take a look at some easy pumpkin carving ideas here.
There are lots of activities that can help encourage development and exercise motor functions, while giving your child an opportunity to enjoy seasonal fun. CerebralPalsy.org has listed easy to create pumpkin activities for sensory play. You could turn your pumpkin into a volcano, or scoop out the flesh and fill it with slime or other textured items like hair gel.
Pumpkin recipes to enjoy
If you are carving pumpkins, then you will be left with lots of fleshy pumpkin pulp – don’t throw it away!
- Peas & Crayons has shared a delicious pumpkin muffin recipe that’s simple to make and sweetened only with maple syrup. If suitable, your child can help you weigh out your ingredients and stir the batter.
- The Children’s Food Trust have also shared their sweet and spicy pumpkin soup recipe, which – with adult supervision – some children could get involved with preparing. Pumpkins are high in fibre and contain vitamin A, so this is a great healthy and warming recipe to make as the weather gets colder outside!
- Had enough of pumpkins? We also have plenty of half term ideas on our Resources page.
Halloween Half-Term Fun!
If after all the pumpkin activity, you are looking for more Halloween related ideas to keep boredom at bay, try some of the following suggestions:
- Stock up on spooky craft activities from Hobbycraft and other craft shops
- Visit a local National Trust property as many have pumpkin carving and spooky trails for children
- Get the green and orange food colouring out and bake a Halloween inspired Victoria Sponge!
- Have a movie afternoon and watch a ‘child friendly’ scary movie
- Look out for Halloween parties in your local area that are suitable for children
We’d love to know if you try any of these pumpkin related activities too or have any tips and activities to share! Send as an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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