It's the spooky season, which means Halloween is just around the corner. Halloween is a holiday liked by (most) kids, and if it's fun for them to dress in creative costumes, the candies they receive are also a plus. Don't let them eat too many, though, lest they get sick!
But for children with autism, Halloween might not be so much fun. It can be an extremely overwhelming holiday for sensory and autistic children because there is too much sensory input. There are itchy costumes, spooky imagery, the constant ringing of doorbells…
While there are many things to do to make Halloween more sensory-friendly, you can start with the costumes. You don't necessarily need to participate in trick-or-treating, but you can still make your child feel part of the holiday with an appropriate outfit.
Read: Halloween Tips for Children on the Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Tulle, masks, wigs—they are uncomfortable for children with autism spectrum disorder, so wearing a traditional costume might not be the best solution. Thankfully, there are workarounds to these issues that are more sensory-friendly.
In this article, we’ve gathered fun and autism-friendly costume ideas that your little one will enjoy wearing without experiencing sensory overload.
Why Is Halloween Hard for Children on the Spectrum?
Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain receives and uniquely processes outside information. This creates oversensitivity to environmental factors, including loud sounds, bright lights, sensitivity to certain types of fabric, etc.
These sensory issues manifest in different ways, such as:
- Sensitivity to specific smells
- Under- or overreaction to pain
- Overwhelmed by crowds
- Distress over visually busy or high-noise environments
Yet Halloween is a chance for the child to play a role and become a celebrity, their favorite superhero, an animal, or anything they want. It's an opportunity for your child to get creative—and forge the bond between parent and child!
Sensory-Friendly Costume Ideas
Discover sensory-friendly costumes for this Halloween that will allow your children to celebrate this holiday and enjoy the festivities. Halloween is an exciting time, so making simple costumes out of everyday clothes is an easy, low-cost solution.
Here are some ideas you can try and find the perfect costume.
Onesies are an excellent way for your child to enjoy Halloween without experiencing sensory overwhelm. With this simple piece of clothing, your child will look cute and have fun in whatever he decides to wear.
Here are some options:
A Halloween T-shirt is an easy and simple piece of clothing to wear that won't bother your child with autism. Costumes might become overwhelming, but you can find Halloween-themed shirts that suit your child's needs.
Here is a cute shirt you can try:
Snug pajamas can make your child feel safe, so choose one with a scary pattern. A pair of pajamas with your child's favorite character, such as a superhero or animal pattern, will make your child stand out while still participating in the festivity.
Adaptive Store-Bought Costumes
Several companies (even small businesses), like Target, offer inclusive costumes for children with ASD and other conditions. Many models include popular characters in movies or animals, made with soft materials, detachable pieces, and no tags. They also have flat seams and hidden openings.
Sweatshirts are cozy and warm, and most are made with weighted fabrics. It's an excellent base for any costume. Find a color that suits your needs, a fabric your child is comfortable with, and a model your child likes—and make the best costume.
Character hoodies are also a good idea to incorporate a child's interest while reducing the number of items they wear.
Shopping for a costume is exciting, but making your own costume is equally important. Your home probably has many everyday objects lying around that can be turned into fun and simple costumes. After all, the quality time spent with your child matters the most. So, let your imagination run wild, from a striped shirt and a beret to an apron and a whisk.
You can use a solid-colored apron to decorate the apron however you like using a marker, colored tape, or paint. You can then put it over your child's regular clothes or even pajamas. You can make your child be anything, from a tube of toothpaste to a bag of chips.
- Let your kid select the Halloween costume. As much as you'd like to see him wear a cute outfit or use a particular fabric your child likes, it would help if you let your little one decide what he wants.
- Have your child try the costume. Let your child try the costume a few times around the house before Halloween. This way, your child will get used to wearing the outfit and feel more comfortable.
- Please don't force your child to wear something they don't like. If you do that, everyone will have a miserable Halloween—and it's not worth the effort. Having your child wear a shirt is just as fun as wearing a costume.