Preparing children who have an autism-spectrum disorder for Halloween

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HUNTSVILLE, AL- Halloween is now just days away. While children everywhere are looking forward to dressing up and trick-or-treating, the experience for children with autism can often be a sensory overload.

Madison Behavior Therapy Executive Director Lindsay Chapman says it's important to prepare your child so they know what to expect on Halloween.

"So that we know if something is going to upset them, if we need to work on certain things beforehand or if we should avoid certain things," said Chapman.

The best way to prepare your child is by reading and letting them understand what Halloween is all about. "Some books about Halloween, about costumes, about trick-or-treating...talking to your child ahead of time," said Chapman.

Chapman suggests it's also important to let your child have some time to get used to their costume and let their senses adjust to it.

"Get used to how it feels, get used to the different noises and textures, so there's nothing surprising when Halloween comes," said Chapman.

A "less is more approach" for a costume might be better for a child with sensory issues, for example maybe just a cape or a colored shirt to indicate what they're dressing up as.

Much of Halloween is a social gathering. "This is a great time, if your child has special needs, to work on social skills and be around peers," points out Chapman.PREPARING

Also, get the neighbors involved in your preparations. Let them know you have a child with autism and they may not interact the same as other children. Ask your neighbors if you can practice going door-to-door in the neighborhood so they can get used to it.

Chapman says it's best to avoid houses with flashing lights or scary decorations.

Also, make sure your child is always supervised so you can know when they've had enough and to prevent them from wandering away.