Creepy crawlers, bugs, spiders and snakes are all things that make my skin crawl. But what makes a sensory-sensitive kids’ skin crawl? Perhaps it’s a stray tag, a bulky costume, something on his/her head or a face painting. 

Due to these factors, Halloween costumes can be very difficult to an individual who has autism or sensory processing disorder. Sometimes, just the thought of putting on a costume can be upsetting to someone on the spectrum. 

First things first, what does your child want to wear? Does he or she have a favorite character or item they want to dress up to be? They’ll likely be more willing to wear sensory-friendly Halloween costumes if it matches their idea. Of course, sometimes kids may be VERY specific and it can be tough to meet expectations.

Getting creative with costumes can make Halloween fun for the whole family. Below are a few tricks that can help make Halloween easier for kids with autism and sensory processing issues. 

  • Check out your pajama options (superman, spiderman, skeleton bones). Who wouldn’t want to walk around in pajamas? 
  • Find a t-shirt and jeans costume. Okay, not literal jeans, as many kids with sensory processing issues don’t like the feel of denim. Find a costume that can basically be pants and a t-shirt. Some ideas to get you started:
  • A mime – black sweat pants, striped shirt, white gloves
  •  UPS delivery person- brown sweat pants, brown shirt (draw buttons on with permanent marker and use a little paint for the ups patch)
  • A crayon- matching sweats from head to toe in their favorite color and paint CRAYOLA on their shirt
  • Waldo – glasses and hat optional
  • Aerobics instructor, dancer, gymnast – as long as the leotard isn’t an issue, these costumes are soft and movable
  • A child character like Charlie Brown
  • Shaggy and use a prop as Scooby
  • Christopher Robin and use a Pooh-Bear prop
  • Let the props tell the story. If your child won’t wear a hat, maybe they’ll carry one? With a little creativity you can use props to help tell your story. Perhaps try the following: 
  • Cover an umbrella with cotton and the child can wear all blue to be a rain drop
  • Wear dirty sweats and carry a chimney sweep style broom
  • Carry a bag of money and be a burglar
  • It’s okay NOT to dress up. Passing out candy and seeing a parade of costumes can be fun too.  Sit outside on the front steps and watch the parade of costumes pass by. Maybe have a costume on hand in case they’re inspired to try it. 
  • Let your child be your guide. Be aware of how your child might react to scary costumes. Look at pictures of costumes together. If you’re afraid of how your child might react to something scary, try trick or treating early.  Visit just a few, friendly houses and stay close to home. Set it up so that if you sense a meltdown is coming you can call it a night quickly.

Halloween can be celebrated anyway that works best for your family even if it doesn’t look the way you imagined it.