Preparing for Halloween when your child has SPD
I was watching a local news program the other morning and there was a segment on about a Halloween event that was happening this weekend. What I thought was interesting about the interview was that the person kept stating that it was going to be “family friendly”
She talked about how it was going to be about pumpkins, candy and friendly ghosts. I thought it was a nice way to allude to the other parts of Halloween that it will NOT be.
I liked that without saying it, she was saying it.
The scary parts are not going to be part of this event. Which I really love because I for one have always enjoyed the fun parts of Halloween such as the candy, carving pumpkins and trick or treating. The thing I think about is that even though this place is not having the “scary” things for our special needs children, even the “family friendly” things can be scary.
I know for Elizabeth, who has sensory processing disorder (SPD), so many things in life that others love and take for granted, she has anxiety about.
After 22 years with my beautiful daughter, I have learned to see things through her eyes before we plan anything. I am so very conditioned to.
And I have learned to ask questions:
I ask myself if there will be a lot of people there?
Or, if there will be something that is in the dark?
Can we leave if we need to?
I think it is amazing how many questions I can have for an event that is for others a simple thing.
I have learned to be an advocate for Elizabeth
When she could not talk, I could help people understand her needs and fears and even now, if her anxiety is great, all her words can be hard to get out, so I am there for her to help others understand her.
Halloween is a time that can challenge the neurotypical child, let alone those with special needs. But to take a good, honest look at what you want to do, strategies to attempt it and knowing it is okay if the best laid plans get changed, is a great start to a calmer holiday.
So is taking the time to talk, talk and talk with your children. We have always found preparing Elizabeth early helped her anxiety and made things easier for her and us.
If Elizabeth succeeded in the smallest way, we were so happy. We knew that going to all the houses on our street was too much, but we celebrated that she did a few. We keep in mind her sensory needs when planning her costume and celebrate when she enjoyed wearing it.
My hope is that by planning early, talking a lot and celebrating the little things, Halloween will be a time to make memories and let your child have the fun that children SHOULD have.
I know Elizabeth has passed her trick or treating prime, but she will be on the front lines passing out treats and maybe wearing a costume to make it a bit more fun!
I wish everyone a peaceful week and hope some good memories get made.
Michele Gianetti author of: I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey, Emily’s Sister and Elizabeth Believes In Herself