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Tips for a Fun and Sensory Friendly Halloween

By Maria Keely M.S. OTR/L

Halloween is almost here! While Halloween is a fun and exciting holiday for children, it can be very overwhelming for children with sensory processing difficulties. Here are a few tips to make Halloween a sensory friendly, and fun day!

Costume Tips

Some children prefer specific fabrics and types of materials to wear.  Keep this in mind when selecting the perfect Halloween costume

  • Dress in familiar materials that are not irritating to the child.
  • Wear a familiar undershirt or pajamas underneath the costume.
  • Allow your child to ‘practice’ wearing the costume.
  • Do not force your child to wear masks, wigs, or face paint if they are uncomfortable with it.

Trick-Or-Treating

Going from door to door to collect candy seems like no big deal, but it brings unfamiliar routines, faces, and sounds that may be overwhelming.  Keep these in mind to aide in a smooth, family friendly day.

  • Provide visual schedule of Halloween events making transitions easier.
  • Communicate a Halloween schedule with your child, talk about what will be different.  Avoid staying out too late!
  • New sounds and visual stimuli may be overwhelming to children. Expose them to different things they may encounter in the Halloween section of a store so that they can be prepared.
  • Practice trick-or-treating or consider only going to familiar houses. Crowds and new faces can be overwhelming.
  • Heavy work can be very calming in overwhelming situations, bring a wagon with a pumpkin and allow your child to push or pull it to provide proprioceptive input. Riding in a wagon will also provide vestibular input to regulate arousal level (and help tired feet).

Sensory Play Activities

Holidays provide the perfect opportunity to introduce novel activities to kids.  Providing tactile play promotes sensory processing, fine motor coordination and strengthening, and allows children to use both hands together.

  • Carve pumpkins & play with the flesh for tactile processing.
  • Draw ghosts with shaving cream for tactile processing.
  • Provide crunchy or chewy Halloween treats for oral input.
  • Create play-dough monsters.
  • Sensory bin filled with popcorn kernels, rice, or water beads; hide various Halloween items within the bin.
  • Make Halloween colored slime.