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DRESS-UP FOR SUCCESS: Halloween Hints for Children who are Hypersensitive to Touch

Although Halloween is an exciting time of year and many children are eager to dress up as a favorite character or personality, for children who are overly sensitive to touch (tactile defensive), wearing a costume can be daunting. It is important to consider your child’s needs and respect his/her feelings about dressing up. Listed below are some strategies to keep the tactile defensive child comfortable in his/her costume to ensure a successful Halloween.

  • If your child is afraid of costumed people, do dress-up activities or read books in advance to prepare him/her.

  • Do not force your child to wear a costume. It may backfire.

  • Consider that dressing up does not necessarily mean wearing a “costume”. For example, your child can wear costume-like pajamas or a silly hat in place of a head-to-toe costume.

  • Involve your child as much as possible in planning and picking out his/her costume. But don’t be disappointed if he/she rejects it at the last moment.

  • The costume should be easy to remove and adjust to keep your child comfortable when reaching, walking, and sitting.

  • Practice putting on and taking off the costume a few times before it will be worn. Make sure he/she can easily use the bathroom.

  • Build up tolerance to wearing the costume ahead of time to help your child tolerate the feel of the costume and get a sense of how it looks visually.

  • Consider the weather and whether your child would benefit from removable layers or the addition of a jacket.

  • Many children are particularly sensitive on their faces. Do not insist that your child wear face paint or a mask.

  • If your child wears face paint, bring baby wipes or make-up remover in case he/she becomes uncomfortable.

Blog written by Aviva Goldwasser, OTR/L and Chaye Lamm Warburg, DPS, OTR, Director POTS

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