Like, I am sure, many other families with autistic children, I will not be taking my son trick or treating this year. Although he loves to dress up and emerge himself into different characters he just finds Halloween to anxiety inducing.
Celebrations of any kind can be challenging for many autistic people and it can be difficult to find a balance between giving your child the opportunity to be involved and managing anxiety and sensory challenges. As with so many things I have paired down activities more and more over time as my sons increasing social awareness and the complexity of interactions has increased as he has got older, plus of course all children naturally grow out of things anyway.
I have tried various approaches so he could be evolved over the years, the most successful of which was he used to dress up at then answer the door and give out the sweets which worked well when he was younger. He trick or treated once with support and friends but got overwhelmed after 3 houses and once we made it to a friends Halloween party but it got too much and we came home early. In recent years and after he was-traumatised by school, answering the door to a stream of strangers or even the fact they are knocking is just too anxiety inducing.
So the last couple of years we have carved a pumpkin, and left sweets on the doorstep and sat upstairs watching tv or telling ghost stories and eating popcorn and toffee apples. It is just enough to give my son a taste of Halloween without stressing him out.
I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to do Halloween or even a necessity to do it all. It is nice to give a chi,d an opportunity to participate so long as you are not just doing it because everyone else is or because you as a parent enjoy seeing your child participate which is something I was guilty of in the past I know.
Saying all of this my son has been surprising me all the time and wanting to be involved so much more with things again (as long as he is in control and it is on his terms) so you might yet find me at 5pm on the 31 October desperately trying to put together a costume out of an old sheet and some bin-bags, stranger things have happened!