11 Sensory-Friendly Tips and Tricks for Halloween
Updated: Oct 30
Halloween is an exciting time for costumes, candies, and spooky fun, but for those children who are sensory-defensive or over-responsive to sensory input, it can be a daunting holiday. The rustling of costumes, the bright lights, and unexpected loud noises can lead to sensory overload, making the festivities overwhelming. But fear not! With a little planning and creativity, you can make Halloween sensory-friendly for your child.
Here are 11 strategies to keep the tactile sensitive child comfortable this Halloween:
Prepare your child for spooky or loud noises during trick-or-treating by exposing them to Party City or a Halloween store with similar decor.
Noise-canceling headphones can assist in dampening an overstimulating auditory environment. You can consider dressing up your child as a pilot, construction worker, or musician so they can be the noisemakers. When kids are making noise, they tend to be less hyper-responsive to other people’s noise.
If you’re looking for a pumpkin carving alternative for your tactile-sensitive kid, there are great stencils and paint packs to inspire pumpkin decoration. For less mess, use markers, tempera paint markers, or stickers.
Prior to buying the costume, have your child feel the material of the costume and try it on to be sure it’s a good sensory fit.
Wear the costume a couple of times leading up to the big day to stretch out the material, wear it comfortably, and improve tactile tolerance. Additionally, wearing tight clothes (compression shirts, pants, or shorts) under the costume and cutting off the tags can help your child feel more comfortable and secure.
For masks, if the odor isn’t appealing to your child, consider face paint, headbands or hats, hairdos, and other accessories.
There may be too many visual stimuli while trick-or-treating. You can go to Halloween stores to get used to strobe lights or try a cool pair of shades to darken the mood. Consider going trick-or-treating during daylight hours to reduce the impact of flashing lights and spooky decorations.
Make a code word or a simple signal for when your child may feel overwhelmed while trick or treating so you can head home pre-meltdown.
If your child wants to be involved in Halloween activities (i.e., pumpkin carving, slime), try wearing disposable gloves for extra protection.
Map out your route! Create a fun map for your child to adhere to. This creates internal organization for both you and your child, shows what to expect next, and provides a clear ending to their Halloween adventures.
For kids who need some fun to focus, make a scavenger hunt for different costumes (e.g., superheroes, ghosts, stitches, etc.), decorations on the houses (e.g., spider webs, pumpkins, ghosts), and a contest to see who can predict how much candy they’ll collect.
At POTS, we're here to support you and your child on their journey towards participation in holiday and family events. Reach out to us for personalized guidance from experts on making holidays truly special for your child.