A Halloween for Everyone

Halloween is fast approaching.

I know because our daily montage of videos has changed from Little Einsteins and Over the Hedge to Scooby Doo and Wizard of Oz.  Yes, I can tell the seasons by whatever movie Brian is obsessing over at the time.

Very exciting news around our home is that Brian independently chose what he wanted to be for Halloween this year.  He decided he wanted to be a lion.

batmanvilliansEvery Halloween we put a lot of thought into Brian’s costume, having had some failures over the years.   Like most kids with autism, he also has sensory processing disorder.  He doesn’t tolerate scratchy (cheap) fabric, masks, some hats, and so on.  We also found out last year, when we kind of coerced him to be The Joker, that he’s not a fan of face make-up.

Partially due to his OCD and to SPD, Brian hates to layer.  In Maine, it wouldn’t be unheard of to go trick-or-treating in the snow, so layering is a must.  He has “rules” he has developed.  For example, he will not wear a hoodie with a zipper with a coat with a zipper.  It is okay if it’s a pullover hoodie with a coat- but only one zipper at a time!

Another setback we ran into this year is that as he gets older, the readily available costumes become more mature.  My ten-year-old’s favorite cartoon characters are from the Disney Jr. channel- good luck finding costumes from those shows for fourth graders.  All the lion costumes that were of a good quality that he would tolerate ended in toddler sizes.

We’ve made our own costumes most years, I enjoy doing it and I know Brian is more apt to wear them.  There’s been years, like the year he was a pirate, where a piece of the costume came off at each house.  By the time we got to the tenth house, he was just a boy wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. So far he’s been very excited with the progress I’ve made with the lion costume and we’re hopeful he’ll wear it for longer than 15 minutes.

For years, Brian would knock on the door with his brother and the second the door opened he would just walk into the house and try to make himself at home.  And then cry when I pulled him out while trying to mumble an explanation/apology to the homeowners.  Think about it, for a literally-thinking child, why would you ever knock on someone’s door if you weren’t coming for a visit?  We’re not Jehovah’s Witnesses and we have never volunteered with a political campaign, so he has no practice of this knock and talk routine except for this one night a year.

Every year in the weeks leading up to Halloween we practice how to trick-or-treat.  We talk about it every day.  We read little stories about it.  Last year was the first year he didn’t try to enter every house we stopped at.  In fact, I even hung back a little bit and Corbin just gave him a little tug at his neckline if he needed.

Sometimes we get to these houses where the homeowners demand the children to say, “Trick or Treat”.  I get it, but some children can’t say that.  They may be able to say it with some processing time allowed and when they’re not already confused and all out of sorts with the changes of routine.  Brian will usually say it the first few houses but then he starts to get this bewildered look in his eye and he sort of checks out.  It always gets a bit awkward when I have to confront a stranger and demand my son gets a piece of candy (such entitlement, right?) even if he doesn’t say “Trick or Treat”.


Love these Trick-or-Treat cards from NAA!

My husband and I always go out Trick or Treating fully prepared that at some point, early in our travels, one of us will return home with Brian while the other stays out much later with Corbin.   We love having Brian participate in the rituals of childhood, but we also know when not to push it any longer so it can end on a good note and be fun for everyone involved.

This Halloween, please don’t just assume children like mine are rude.  We’ve put a lot of time, thought, and effort into having our little one being included in this holiday and we would appreciate kindness and patience.  Halloween is for everyone!



Heather Nelson

About Heather Nelson

Heather resides in Rockland where she is busy juggling life as a newlywed, a mom to two boys (one of which who has autism), a part time job in direct sales, and a full-time job as a pediatric occupational therapy assistant. She has a love for live music, karaoke, and cheering on the underdogs.