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