"Where's your costume?" Autism Spectrum Disorder and Halloween


By Adina Kayton September 17, 2022

Halloween is just around the corner and thousands of children have started planning their costumes and quite possibly may have already bought them! I can already see the parents high fiving and giving each other nods of approval on getting it done early. But you're not off the hook yet mom and dad, you may have Elsa now but at some point, possibly 24 hours before the big Trick-Or-Treat night, your kiddo will demand the new, never before seen *insert crazy costume*, and you, Pinterest and a needle and thread will become best buds. 

And all around the land Farmers will rejoice at the sound of children running through their fields picking pumpkins to carve and apples to bob. The streets will soon be decorated to look eerie, even kids shows on TV will be geared toward spooky themes and stores will change their window displays to spider webs and pretend blood. It's personally my favorite time of the year! 

But for many, it's not, it can be plain frightening for children with ASD. When one child picks up a dragon costume he thinks about how much he can possibly scare his sister in it, and on the other hand a child with ASD may pick up the same costume and worry about how uncomfortable he will be in it. Will it itch? Will it make a strange sound when they walk in it? Do they have to wear it the whole time? 

As Halloween approaches here are some tips for you to consider as you get knocks on your door:

1. Don't see a costume? 

Compliment their choice of shirt and wish them Happy Halloween! Children with ASD may have sensory difficulties and wearing costumes can feel like an actual nightmare. 

2. The child seems a little older than the usual crew?

Children with ASD might not take into consideration age and are constantly working on their social cues and social skills. Also, who doesn't love candy and going Trick-or-Treating?? Please, give them candy without making a remark about their age. They may already be making a very big effort to be where they are at that moment, questioning their age may unintentionally hurt their self esteem. 

3. They didn't say please, or thank you? 

Many children with ASD are still learning social skills and they need a lot of social practice in order to achieve those skills. Be understanding, keep an open mind and wish them a Happy Halloween. 

4. They looked in the candy bowl but didn't take anything? 

As you know by making it this far down the page, children with ASD can be very particular. If their favorite candy is not there, they will not take a different one. Having a sticker or a non-edible treat may help, but don't worry if you don't!

5. Blue Pumpkin? 

This started somewhere around 2013 when families with severe food allergies were trying to spread awareness at Halloween time about their children's condition when it came time to Trick-or-Treat. It has  spread, slightly, into a blue pumpkin to symbolize a child having ASD. It's also possible the kiddo thought the blue pumpkin looked awesome and that's great too! Ask the kiddo if they prefer a certain type of candy. If the child doesn't lift his pumpkin up for you to place candy inside of it then ask them which one they would like. 

There is a quote that I love and I'll share it here:  

Dr. Stephen Shore's quote "If you've met one individual with autism, you've met one individual with autism". All kids are different, some like chocolate, some like vanilla, some like costumes and some don't. Don't ask the kids why they aren't wearing any costumes, they just want to get some candy and go home and eat it.