Holidays are an interesting time for a parent of a child with Autism. And each holiday comes with it’s own unique challenges. There is also the fine line of….’how much do we actually participate?’
Cooper doesn’t understand Halloween. Or costumes. Or Trick-Or-Treating. For starters he is the least greedy kid ever….he will get one piece of candy and be great for the rest of the night. He doesn’t like to walk so the idea of walking from house to house is ridiculous. He would need to be carried or put in a stroller. He doesn’t like crowds. Or loud noises. Blinky lights make him crazy.
So one would think that Halloween is out.
But in a way that is not fair. Nor is it challenging him in a healthy way. I firmly believe that he needs to try new experiences.
“The most important thing people did for me was to expose me to new things.” – Temple Grandin
So for the 5th year in a row we are giving it a go.
A few rules that I live by on Halloween as an ASD parent:
- Be ready to be done at any time. When the child is done..they are done. That could mean 1 house. That could mean 5 houses.
- Have bribes ready. Bring snacks. And lots of them. Most likely your ASD child will be too picky to eat most of the candy given out.
- Make a sign that explains what is happening. It will help people understand why your child is not speaking words. And grabbing candy. And pushing. And laminate that sucker. ASD kids love to crumple and rip paper.
- He doesn’t have to wear the costume. Let him wear what works.
- It’s ok to be sad and watch the other children enjoying it all. Don’t beat yourself up. You are human.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Be able to chase and carry.
- Let him have the damn iPad. It’s not worth the struggle.
- Try and get pictures and then move on. It’s fine that yours are always a blur. Or of your kid looking at an iPad. It’s fine. Remember that.
- Have friends and family around to help with the other children. This is big for me. Cooper’s dad and I go to great lengths to make sure our other little guy gets to have ‘typical’ holidays.
- And lastly, provide a little Autism Awareness to people that otherwise know nothing about it. People stare. Adults stare. Children stare. Learn to smile through it. It’s taken me years but I can do it now.
Here are a few pictures of my little Justice League from Friday night. We went to a Fall Festival. Cooper lasted 15 minutes. Sawyer, my typical kiddo, lasted 30 minutes. And you know what…it worked. It was fine. Preparations were in place. Jamie and I drove separately so he could bring Cooper out to the parking lot to watch a movie when he got overstimulated. We let him have his iPad. We let him run and dart and roll and push and eventually kick and then he left. And it was OK. We went. And that’s what matters.
And last year. (This year I laminated his sign!)