Some kids can enjoy Halloween whether they are dressed as a goblin or a princess, but Halloween may not come as easily for other children.  Trick-or-treating can be an overwhelming experience for children with a sensitive sensory system as they experience new sights, sounds, and behaviors. Check out our eight tips to help all children enjoy their trick or treat hauls!

  1. Pick a comfortable costume: When deciding between a super hero or doctor, keep your child’s sensory preferences in mind. For children that are sensory-sensitive, a light costume with minimal layers may be less stressful than a heavy mask or cloak. Other factors to consider when selecting a costume include mobility, visibility, and whether your child will feel comfortable in face makeup long-term.
  2. Make sure your child is easily visible: Dark colors on costumes may make it harder for you to keep an eye on your little one. When helping your child select his or her costume, choose one with bright colors or reflective surfaces. You should also equip your child with a flashlight, or even a Patient First blinker, to not only make it easier for you to see your child, but to make him or her more visible to others as well.
  3. Be sure costumes are properly fitted: If your child has a costume with a mask, be sure the mask is properly fitted and that it doesn’t affect your child’s vision.  Costumes with a cape or other loose clothing articles should also be properly fitted and fastened. This will prevent falls and injuries caused by things that go bump in the night.
  4. Be sure your child is comfortable with the route: Help familiarize your child with your planned trick-or-treating routes by walking them during the daytime with a parent or guardian. Additionally, prepare your child for skeletons, ghouls, and Frankenstein by reminding them that kids are only dressed in costumes and not to be afraid. This will help alleviate anxiety and ensure your child will have a smooth trick-or-treating experience. If your child is young or not comfortable roaming the neighborhood, look for smaller Halloween celebrations like trunk-or-treating opportunities in your community.
  5. Use the buddy system: Even if accompanied by a parent, you may want to pair your child with a buddy to help keep an extra lookout. Having a close buddy to hold hands with can ease your child’s anxiety and increase safety, while also giving you peace of mind.
  6. Teach Halloween manners: Before you set out on your route, discuss Halloween manners, like saying “trick-or-treat!”, “thank you!”, and only taking one piece of candy per house unless otherwise specified. Also, remind your little ones about important street safety rules, such as looking both ways before entering [CM1] [AY2] a street. If your child is non-verbal or shy about speaking to strangers, consider staying close to your child so you can relay gratitude and ensure a smooth experience. 
  7. Be aware of allergies: Remind children with food allergies not to get into their candy until an adult has a chance to go through it. This will help prevent your little one from accidentally eating something that may contain an allergen. Inspecting your child’s haul for allergens can also give you the opportunity to look for any harmful substances that should not be there. To help bring parents peace of mind, Patient First centers offer complementary candy x-rays. To learn more about our Halloween x-ray program, please visit: link to Halloween x-ray blog post.
  8. Look for a teal pumpkin: The Food Allergy Research & Education organization launched the Teal Pumpkin Project to promote inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season. A teal pumpkin typically indicates non-food items are being offered, such as bouncy balls or spider rings. Don’t worry, most houses that offer non-food items also offer traditional Halloween treats. A teal pumpkin is just a sign that little toys and other fun items that your child can keep are available.