It starts every year, the first day of the month of October.

And that is when I hear the words 

“what should I be for Halloween?” and then we discuss the options as we decorated the house, after we decorate the house, while we are getting candy for Halloween, after we got the candy for Halloween. You kind of get the point.

The big topic is what to wear, at least this is the big topic for typically developing children. Now, don’t get me wrong, Elizabeth now, is concerned with what she will wear but in her early years that was not so much the case.

I can remember early Halloween times with her that I would be trying to make the time fun for Emily and trying to keep Elizabeth from crying. It was not easy and pretty much I was a nervous wreck by the end of the two hour trick or treat time.

I think the problem back then was that I really did not understand fully about her disorders (Sensory Processing Disorder and Dyspraxia). I think there was a part of me that thought: just try to make it fun and she will enjoy it. She has to like Halloween!

Well here is a fun fact, she did not have to like it. And she made that very clear to us.

What I wish I knew then is what I want to offer to you now.

1. I WISH I REALIZED THAT SHE DID NOT HAVE TO DRESS UP.

As simple as this sounds, it was truly something that I did not think about. I was so focused on having her do the things she “should do” that I did not let in the things she “needed to do”. For example, it was probably not to be forced into a Minnie Mouse outfit ( yep, the ears too!) but instead allowed to wear a shirt that comfortable and maybe if you can, orange or even with a Halloween decal on it. But something that they are comfortable wearing. 

2. I WISH I HAD REALIZED SHE DID NOT HAVE TO TRICK OR TREAT.

 

Yes, I realize that this sounds a great deal like the first thing. And it does kind of dovetail to the first, but think about it. I was taking a non-verbal, Sensory, child door to door and asking her to try to verbalize words she cannot yet say, to people she does not know. I know! Even as I write this, I struggle to figure out what I was thinking. So I offer out what I have learned and that is, they do not really have to go if they are truly afraid. Or really, even if they simply do not want to. It is not like children with special needs will not get the life experience of knowing about Halloween, why and how it is celebrated. They will get that knowledge, but also an anxiety-free time as well.

3. I WISH I HAD TOLD OTHERS ABOUT HER DISORDERS.

By this I mean, I did not help facilitate the experience too well. I was mostly concerned about getting her through the event, to consider helping others understand her sensory needs. So with this in mind, maybe you can consider getting some small cards made that tell others about your special needs child. I know that when I did get my head wrapped around what I should do, I would do this verbally and I was always so happy to see how much people, once they knew, tried to make it fun for Elizabeth. I think the cards would be better because not always do you get the chance to talk to the homeowner or party giver, but a card handed out will get noticed. An example is:

My child cannot speak well. Please offer the candy to him/her. Thank you! Or

My child has sensory issues. He/she is very anxious, please do not ask him/her questions. Thank you!

This is an example to use, but you can make your own. You can make many or just one to hold up as you  go to the door. I actually had a mom do that last year at our house and I loved it. I knew by acting the best way I could for this child, I was helping to give him as fun a time as I could.

4. THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO CELEBRATE THIS HOLIDAY.

By this I mean, take any and all successes and enjoy them. If your child goes to only two houses, but has fun….call it a success.

If your child puts on the costume, but does not want to go…as tough as this might be, call it a success.

If your child says just one “trick or treat”rejoice in the words said….it is a success.

As a mom of a special needs child, I know the littlest things can fuel my heart for a long, long time.

I have learned over the years to let go of the “world’s way” of seeing success and allowed myself to focus on “our” way of seeing it.

So with all this in mind, I wish everyone a Halloween that is as fun as peaceful and as memory filled as possible. Because after all, the memories are what we tuck in our hearts for years to come.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele

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