Halloween is an exciting night and creates lasting childhood memories for both kids and parents. Here are some strategies that will help prepare your child on the spectrum for a night of ghouls, goblins, critters and candy.
The first thing you should do to get your child on the spectrum excited about Halloween and a night of trick or treating is to let them pick a Halloween costume they will feel comfortable in. Some children on the spectrum can be sensitive to face makeup or masks. If the costume calls for either, find alternative ways create the look your child is going for. Glue popsicle sticks to a mask so that they don’t have to wear it on their face, but have the option to present the mask if they choose to.
Always try to do a Halloween dress rehearsal before the big night. Have your child on the spectrum put on the complete costume and role play by going to a family, neighbor, or friend’s home and practicing saying “trick or treat”, holding their basket or bag out and saying “thank you” after they receive their candy. Remind your child to be polite, wait their turn, and take one piece of candy.
It is important to establish your guidelines in advance. Prepare your child with autism for what to expect on Halloween. Let me know what time they will be going trick or treating, for how long they can expect to be out. Explain to them that they can only go to homes with their lights on. Give them specific guidelines of what streets they can be on and the fact that they need to stay near you, a family member or a friend’s parents. Use visuals if it is easier for your child on the spectrum to understand what to expect on Halloween night. Remember to review everything right before you set out to start your evening.
Candy guidelines are also a factor that needs to be taken into consideration. Children can become very excited when it comes to candy. Set rules on how much candy they are allowed to have in a day. Before you go trick or treating make sure your child on the spectrum knows to bring all the candy home and give it to you so that you can check it before they eat it. Create a chart on when your child is allowed to eat candy and how many pieces they can have.
With guidelines in place and expectations managed, your child will have an incredibly fun night of trick or treating and you will create special Halloween memories that will last a lifetime.
Fall is filled with exciting activities and social situations. Help prepare child on the spectrum for working with others, problem solving, and other important social skills in a fun and stress-free way.
When your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, struggles to play with peers or communicate properly with adults, they have a hard time, working with others and making friends. Learning to play and work with others is a critical skill for developing friendships, completing group projects, and participating in extra-curricular activities. Cooperation skills also build the foundation for more complex social skills.
Here are some fun ways to teach your child on the spectrum the social skills and cooperation skills needed to make friends and work well with others.
Here are some fun activities you can do with our child, who has been diagnosed with autism, that will teach them skills such as waiting, turn taking, and following directions.
- Cooking – Family cooking activities are a fun way to divide work and practice skills. Start by making a written or pictorial recipe with ingredients and steps presented in order. Assign roles to each family member and practice turn taking, following directions, and sharing responsibility for creating something you can all enjoy later.
- Gardening – A great way to do a group activity with your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, is to spend the afternoon gardening with them. Whether potting seeds or planting flowers, it is best to assign your child with a specific task that they are responsibly for. Gardening provides the opportunity for continued cooperation and responsibility; and many kids enjoy it.
- Art – Group art projects such as murals and collages provide the perfect opportunity for dividing work and creating a lasting reminder of cooperation. Select a theme and have your child on the spectrum look for specific pictures in magazines, books, on-line, or whatever resources you have at home. Then give them the responsibility of creating the design for the collage by placing the pictures together in the order they like best, while someone else glues the pictures down. This is a perfect way to practice teamwork.
After your child has developed basic cooperation skills, give them opportunities to use these skills at home, at school and in the community. Encourage your child on the spectrum to use the social skills they have learned to master tasks on their own.
Bedtime is difficult for virtually every child. Most children will become upset and some will protest, or create distractions just so they don’t have to go to bed. A routine that is positive and consistent can make bedtime more pleasant and less stressful for everyone. Studies have shown both late bedtimes and irregular bedtimes affect children’s behavior at home, in school and in the community. Many children, especially those on the spectrum, need help maintaining a regular schedule and a regular bedtime routine.
Beautiful Minds Center has come up with some ways that can help your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, maintain a consistent bedtime routine.
- Be Consistent – setting a time, creating a bedtime routine and sticking to it every day is the most important part of keep a consistent bedtime routine. When your child on the spectrum knows bedtime is at 8:00 every night they can prepare for it by allotting extra time to wind down from their day. The consistency in your child’s bedtime routine will also ensure they are well rested and ready to take on a brand new day.
- Plan – Plan ahead for bedtime. Sometimes it can take your child, who has been diagnosed with autism some time to get ready for bed. Give your child time to get into their pajamas, brush their teeth, and read bedtime stories, If children on the spectrum use a visual schedule, include all of the activities leading up to bedtime in the schedule. Some children, who have been diagnosed with autism, may need a reminder before they start their bedtime routine. Setting a timer and preparing your child on the spectrum for transitioning from day to night can also be helpful for reviewing expectations.
- Make Bedtime Something To Look Forward To –Create a routine that includes quiet and enjoyable activities for your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, and use this as a time to devote your attention fully to your son or daughter. Reading stories and singing songs are wonderful ways to help your child relax before they go to bed.
- Follow Through –Planning your daily activities in advance and making sure your home before your child’s bedtime ensures your child on the spectrum has consistency and knows what to expect. Changing your child’s bedtime, regular daily routines, and expectations can lead to unnecessary stress.
Everyone benefits from a consistent and positive bedtime routine! Research has shown that a consistent sleep schedule benefits all family members. When children follow a bedtime routine without protest it is less stressful for the entire family.