Friday, October 28, 2011

Sensory Tips for Halloween

Halloween can be a challenging holiday for children with sensory difficulties. Below are some tips to help make the holiday more fun for everyone!

Pumpkin Carving:
Pumpkin carving can be a great tactile activity for sensory exploration, or it can be an uncomfortable experience for children with tactile defensiveness. Try the following adaptations to make it more enjoyable for all.
  • Let your child wear plastic gloves. 
  • Put the pumpkin ‘goop’ into a Ziploc bag and let your child explore it through the bag.
  • Use a spoon to scoop the goop, to avoid touching it with bare hands.
  • As with all tactile activities, don’t force your child to touch anything he doesn’t want to touch.
  •  Involve your tactilely defensive child by letting him participate in a different way, such as drawing a face on the pumpkin.

Halloween Parties:
  • Plan ahead.  Ask the host or teacher what will be happening during the party, so you can prepare your child. Use a social story to prepare your child.
  • Find a quiet place that your child can use to take a break.
  • Offer to bring a snack to share that your child will enjoy.
  • Use the costume tips below.

  •  Let your child help choose the costume. Take into consideration the feel of the fabric and your child’s preferences.
  • Have your child wear the costume prior to Halloween to get accustomed to how the costume will feel.
  • Wear tight clothing underneath the costume.
  • Don’t force your child to wear face paint. Wear a mask instead, or go without anything on your child’s face.
  • Consult with your child’s occupational therapist to determine if placing weights in the pocket might be beneficial.

Trick or Treating:
  •  Plan ahead. Walk through the route with your child you will be taking prior to trick or treating
  • Trick or treat in a familiar neighborhood. Consider going before dark and avoiding houses with scary music and flashing lights.
  • Participate in calming, “heavy work” activities prior to trick or treating (i.e. jumping jacks, animal walks)
  • Remember, it’s ok to go home early!

For more tips, check out AOTA’s Tip Sheet: Enjoying Halloween with Sensory Challenges

Have a safe and fun Halloween! What do you do to make Halloween more sensory-friendly?

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