With Halloween just around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about how to make the holiday a success for your students with special needs.
Trick-or-treating can be a daunting experience for children with sensory processing disorders or social anxiety, but with a little planning it can be a fun and enjoyable night for all. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Read stories and watch movies before the experience to help know what to expect. Examples of stories include Social Skills Story: Trick or Treating (includes trick or treat sign for non-verbal kids), Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas, and The Berenstain Bears Go Trick-or-Treating by Stan and Jan Berenstain.
Practice trick or treating. Ideally this can be done with a friendly neighbor teacher or even the school office, so your students can familiarize themselves with the process.
Going through the motions beforehand will help them feel more prepared and confident on Halloween night.
Tips to Share With Parents:
Know your child’s limits. Select a reasonable time frame and quota of houses to visit so you can manage expectations. If your child gets overwhelmed easily, consider starting with just a few houses and working up to more as they become comfortable with the process.
Create a map or visual plan. Letting your kiddo know how many houses you’ll go to before they eat their candy might make waiting easier. You could even create a treasure map that they can follow as you go from house to house.
Choose houses of neighbors who are familiar with your child. See where you can create familiarity on a night that can be full of surprises. Knowing that they will see friendly faces at some of the homes they visit can help ease any anxiety they may be feeling.
Watching family-friendly Halloween movies like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or Monsters, Inc. can also be helpful in getting kids excited about dressing up and going door-to-door for candy.
With a little planning and preparation, Halloween can be a successful and enjoyable experience for all of your students, no matter their abilities.
By following these tips, you can help create lasting memories that your students will cherish for years to come.