Oh yes, Halloween….and Autism….not always a good blend. Little Man has been doing Halloween his way since about third grade. And we just roll with the flow anymore. What does an autistic Halloween look like? I guess you’d have to ask every autism parent, because if you’ve met one autistic kid, you’ve met ONE autistic kid. They’re as different from each other as everyone else. This is what our Autism Halloween looks like…
Costumes: He always wants the costumes with all the parts and accompanying swords, etc. We don’t typically make it two houses before I’m carrying random parts. By the time he gets home, we’re lucky if he still has the clothing portion still on. Forget asking him to manage whatever sword, flashlight, scythe, etc that goes with the costume AND his candy bucket. We don’t even let those out the door to head out into the hood.
Candy: He HATES chocolate. Won’t have anything to do with, although he keeps telling us every birthday that maybe this is the year he will try it. We have photographic evidence he used to eat chocolate, when he was about two years old. This is a huge problem when trick-or-treating, because chocolate seems to be the candy of choice. He frequently asks if they have candy other than chocolate. I remind him every single year to just let it go – we’ll swap with his chocolate-eating siblings we get home. I try to tell him it’s rude to ask for a specific kind of candy when trick-or-treating. This is probably the one that gives me the most anxiety every single year.
Trick-or-Treating: He really wants to be out there with his friends. He will get so completely amped up. We make it maybe half a block, if that, before the stimulation overwhelms. We’ve taken breaks. We’ve walked him back home. We’ve bribed him to get completely around one loop in our neighborhood. When we do let him come home, he gets upset he isn’t out there with his siblings and friends still roaming the land. It’s heartbreaking to see him want so much to be able to handle it at the same time he’s completely tapped and overwhelmed.
Cats: We have two cats, one of which is all black (KiKi). About 3pm, he’s stressing about where KiKi is, terrified someone will try to take her and/or hurt her because, well, black cat on Halloween.
As with any other holiday/fun thing, his anxiety can get the best of him. We work through it as best we can. We give him what he can handle. We know his limitations. We know his Halloween doesn’t look like other kids’, but he still experiences the fun. It’s his own autistic Halloween.