Easter Seals Midwest Offers Helpful Halloween Hints for Parents of Children with Autism

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Use these tips as a guide to a happy and safe Halloween.

With Halloween just around the corner, parents and children across the nation are decorating their homes, making or purchasing costumes, and buying candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters. Parents of children with autism have many additional things to contemplate as they prepare for this big day. Easter Seals Midwest offers many helpful hints for parents to consider over the next several days leading up to Halloween.

1.    Invite your neighbors to have a “rehearsal” for Halloween so your child can practice the steps. If this isn’t a possibility for you, it may be helpful to watch YouTube videos of trick-or-treating.
2.    Walk around the block a couple nights before Halloween so your child is familiar with houses in relation to yours. Let your child know the trick-or-treating route in advance.
3.    Encourage your child to try on his/her costume before Halloween.
4.    Before you go out, discuss how much candy your child can eat and when.
5.    Stay close to home where it’s familiar and easy to get back to quickly if necessary.
6.    Let your child stop when he/she wants to stop, even if it’s only two houses in. Make sure an adult is available to take your child aside if they need a break or need to go home.
7.    Make yourself aware of houses to avoid based on decorations that are gory, that have excessive lighting or strobes, or any other aspects that you know will make your child uncomfortable.
8.    Join with other parents to throw a Halloween party that is autism-friendly based on the needs of your child and the needs of other party guests.
9.    Make sure your child has identifying information on him/her (tag, card, bracelet, etc.) in case you get separated.
10.    Put something on your child such as a glow stick necklace to help you spot him/her in a crowd when it’s dark.
11.    Remember, it’s okay to stay at home. You can create your own Halloween tradition that fits your family’s needs. This could include a special movie night, creating Halloween-inspired foods together, or anything that is fun for the whole family.

“By adequately preparing for a holiday like Halloween before the day arrives can give parents of children with autism a real sense of normalcy,” states Jeanne Marshall, vice president of Easter Seals Midwest Autism and Children’s Services. “It can also help children feel comfortable with the uniqueness of the day rather than feeling overwhelmed by changes in routine because it has been planned in advance.”

For more information on parenting children with autism, visit EasterSealsMidwest.org.

About Easter Seals Midwest | Founded in 1964, Easter Seals Midwest is a nonprofit organization that is committed to helping individuals with developmental disabilities—including autism—learn, live, work and participate in the community. The agency employs more than 1,400 staff members, operates a budget of more than $50 million and provides services for nearly 4,000 individuals statewide through four divisions: Autism Services, Community Living Services, Early Childhood Services and Employment Services. For more information, please visit EasterSealsMidwest.org.

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Erika Whittaker
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