Saturday, October 31, 2009

#23 Does your child react to Halloween?

Holidays disrupt the routine that so many children on the autism spectrum enjoy. This can lead to meltdowns and shutting down because of the sensory overload. How do your children/students/patients react to Halloween? What do you do to help them cope?

Generally speaking, I am a Halloween and Valentine's Day Scrooge. They are excuses to eat huge amounts of sugar, and while I don't subscribe to the "sugar" sensitivity belief (I think the "high" is more to sensory stimulation than what's ingested, but that is my opinion based on observation of my own kids), the sensory stimulation of Halloween parades and parties and THEN trick-or-treating is just too much.

Jack was so excited about the school's Halloween activities yesterday. He wanted to do the parade, which at his school included around 1,100 kids and was outside on a very windy day. He walked with his regular inclusion class rather than the TEACCH class, with his aide on hand as an extra set of eyes. He wore his costume at least part of the day and enjoyed his class activities.

Last night he could tell me what costumes his friends wore and what he ate (or didn't eat) at the party. It was a positive experience overall, even if his speech therapist got precious little good work out of him last night at 5:00.

It was not my choice to schedule OT/ST at the hospital at 4:30-5:30 on Fridays. The OT cancelled yesterday. Probably a good thing.

He also wants to go trick-or-treating RIGHT NOW, 8 hours before begging begins. It'll be interesting to see how long he lasts this year. It seems like every year, he goes a bit further with his brother and dad (I'm always home handing out the candy). Two years ago, he did our cul-de-sac, announced, "I'm done!" He set down his candy bucket, took off his costume (a Thomas one that's easy-in-easy-out), and ran home, leaving the bucket and costume on the sidewalk. Last year, he let George bring him home after going to more houses. His tolerance for all the stimulation improves each year.

And speaking of his costume.... Jack goes as Thomas the Tank Engine every year, and he loves his costume (which we've had for six years...his brother used it before him!). It's looking a bit rough, but what a good investment it has been since it's one-size fits all!

Please share your Halloween experience, scary as it may be!

And Happy Halloween, everyone!


tinamarie said...

Jack is so cute!
Tony has always hated Halloween. he likes the candy but never wanted to dress up or go trick or treating. The few times we could get him to go was only to a few houses and he was done.
Usually we took our older son and just collected candy for him and left him with grandma.

JoLynn said...

Don't you wish everyone would realize that Halloween costumes can be reused? This year, I waited too long to get a decent, yet affordable, Spongebob costume. Crafty as I am, I was about to make one, when Max said, "I want Scooby Doo." You guessed it: Last year's costume! I was so grateful I hadn't sold it, and equally grateful that it fit. Here's what he looked like in '08 (his bro was Shaggy).

Anyway, I am also the candy giver, so my stories are just hearsay, but I was told that, when Max was Thomas back in '07, he wanted to enter everyone's house. He figured, "They're opening their doors, why can't I go in?" That caused confusion and a truncated experience for all. It must be kind of like what a foreigner experiences. Once you think you have the social nicities figured out, something happens that turns things upside-down. That's my kiddos: little foreigners.

This year was not bad. He was OK until he got to a "haunted garage," equipped with thunder noises. He has a fear of thunder at the moment. I honestly think this year (he's 4) was the best year for him as far as handling the stimulation. He wants to open all the candy, but not necessarily to eat it. He just digs opening wrappers.

When you think of it, we have some pretty weird customs, don't we?