So, it started off with 7 people.

Moved to 3 people.

Then back up to 4 people and I am told that that is the final total.

You may ask what the total is for and it is the number of friends my son is going trick or treating with on Halloween.

OK, we got that settled….

Then came the costume idea or should I say ideas.

This took some conversations and then was settled.

All this was for my son Michael.

Michael is neurotypical, and it took a bit of work and focus to get the details worked out.  Now that is with a neurotypical child but when your child has special needs that work can increase and take on many forms.

The simple act of planning for a Halloween and hoping to make it fun can take many steps.   My daughter Elizabeth is now 22 years old and for those who do not know, she has special needs.  Specifically, sensory processing disorder ( SPD) and global dyspraxia.  Her disorders made these holidays challenging and required some forethought for sure.

Here are 4 tips that worked for us at Halloween time:

  1. Communicate with your child early about if they want to dress up for Halloween or not.  Now is the time to plan ahead.  Because nothing says fun like running around or ordering that one costume two days before Halloween.  I know many children will change their minds but at least you have an idea of what your child wants to do. When Elizabeth was younger and non-verbal at the time, we used to use pictures in a magazine of costumes to help Elizabeth make a decision.
  2. Talk to the school about what is on the school’s agenda for Halloween.  Is it a party? or a parade?  Can parents come to help? Can you come to help your child?  I used to talk with Elizabeth’s aide when she was younger to make sure she knew how Elizabeth was feeling about the parades and loud crowds.   Sometimes it is easier to talk now then when it gets closer because there is time to adjust now and not so much when things get all scheduled.  And truthfully, don’t be afraid to advocate for your child if they truly do not want to walk in the parade or participate at the party.  It is always better to listen to your child than to pressure them.
  3. To go or not to go  Elizabeth would be all excited to go trick or treating for two weeks before the night and then like clockwork change her mind.  Then change it back.  I know it was hard for us and her big sister to sort of be waiting to know what was actually going to happen.  So even if no plans are formally made, it is helpful to begin the talking and planning.
  4. Celebrate it all  So even if you plan an outfit and get out the door and only do two houses.  It is still a success.

Or if the outfit only goes on for a bit…still a success.

The child who would not normally speak up but does that night…. a success!  I think the mindset I always adopted was the above, because seeing their hard work and seeing them try makes me see all the little things attempted as successes.

So with 2 weeks until the event, I hope some of my thoughts help a bit.  And I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of:

I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey 

Emily’s Sister

Elizabeth Believes In Herself: The Special Journey Continues