Tips for Trick or Treating with Sensory Processing Disorder

With October 31st rapidly approaching, our team at Infinite Therapy Solutions in Hudson County, NJ is ready to help you have a successfully spooky Halloween! We're happy to address your questions about how to co-manage your child's sensory processing disorder and trick or treating so you and your family can have a fun, engaging, and safe experience.

Why Sensory Processing Disorder And Halloween Can Be a Unique Combination

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, Sensory Processing Disorder affects about 5% of children in the United States. More recent data from a 2009 study found a prevalence rate as high as 1 in 6. Even if we stick with the more conservative estimate, this means at least 3.7 million children around the country are potentially facing some unique challenges this Halloween. The child with sensory processing disorder has a difficult time regulating their responses to sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and movement perception. The uptick in people on the street, out-of-the-ordinary sounds, the feel and look of different costumes, the abundance of sugary sweets, and other holiday-related stimuli can easily overwhelm a child with Sensory Processing Disorder. These children require tools and strategies to help them feel successful as they participate in their environment. And because the environment changes so drastically on Halloween, special considerations should be made.

4 Sensory Processing Tips for Halloween

1. Introduce your child to Halloween ahead of time.

Now is the time to start reading books, role play, and have conversations about Halloween. This can help a child feel more prepared for unusual situations, such as knocking on a stranger's door, taking candy from people they may not know, and hearing new phrases like "Boo!" or "Trick or Treat!". Discussing Halloween traditions and activities ahead of time also gives you a chance to re-establish boundaries you expect from the family.

2. Help your child find a costume they'll feel comfortable in.

Discuss your guidelines for acceptable costumes before you begin shopping for one or making a DIY at home—then get creative! Dressing up can be elaborate or as simple as wearing a certain colored shirt. Ensure your child's costume is not too restrictive, too loose, too scratchy, slippery, or hot. You may need to avoid masks and face paint. You should also give your child a head's up that they may need to wear a jacket over their costume if the weather is cold.

3. Arrange sensory activities for Halloween that your child will enjoy.

If your child doesn't want to go trick or treating, they can still participate in the holiday tradition with other types of activities! This may include painting or putting stickers on pumpkins, helping you with a Halloween cooking project, or creating Halloween-inspired art.

4. Take steps to help your child avoid overload.

Preparation is key. You may want to role play with phrases like "When is it my turn?" and "Please don't touch me." Consider minimizing the number of activities or people you engage with. Lastly, remember to always provide choices for your child and watch for signs of sensory overload so you can quickly help them find a quiet and comfortable space to calm down.

Key Takeaways

  • Children with sensory processing disorder may require special accommodations and extra preparation to help them safely participate in Halloween.
  • Taking the time to teach your child about Halloween traditions, establish boundaries, and find enjoyable activities for your child can help them avoid sensory overload.
  • Remember that trick or treating is not mandatory—there are many ways to get in the Halloween spirit!

Do You Have a Child With a Sensory Processing Disorder?

Every child deserves a fun and safe Halloween, no matter what their abilities are! For inquiries about our home and clinic-based services or to set up an appointment with a pediatric therapist in Bayonne, NJ, contact Infinite Therapy Solutions at 201-455-3144.