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Halloween for people with autism. What do they struggle with?

Halloween for people with autism. What do they struggle with?

Image source: © canva
Oliwia Ruta,
30.10.2023 14:15

People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often find it difficult to manage unusual situations. The discomfort associated with Halloween activities can be immense. How do you alleviate the stress associated with the celebration?

Most people associate Halloween with great fun, costume parties and thematic treats (or tricks). Kids can finally sit down to carve a pumpkin or dress up as their favourite cartoon character. However, not everyone is enthusiastic about the celebration. People with ASD often have difficulty finding their way around unusual situations as daily routine is very often the basis for a comfortable life.

Halloween for an autistic person

Halloween can be perceived quite differently by people on the spectrum. Seemingly trivial and traditional situations can cause discomfort for them. The stress of violent surprises, people in ghoulish costumes or creepy Halloween decorations pose quite a challenge for autistic people and can cause sensory issues.

On this day, people on the spectrum might not experience peaceful and quiet atmosphere even in their own home. The frequent sound of a doorbell, unusual commotion outside or the social pressure of the traditional "trick or treat" question are hugely disruptive especially for non-verbal people on the spectrum. Disrupting the routine can cause feelings of stress and panic.

How to reduce Halloween stress?

Negative feelings towards Halloween can be counteracted by careful planning. Positive stories about Halloween and a gradual familiarisation with the celebration can also help. Halloween-themed events will pass with much less stress if care is taken to provide an appropriate costume for an autistic person.

Sensory discomfort is a common problem when choosing new clothes. The focus should be on the right size, material, and the ability to pull the costume off without any problems. Getting rid of itchy clothing tags will also help. It is best to choose an outfit composed of standard clothes. Additionally, it is good to limit decorations and flashing lights at a party.

What might people on the spectrum like Halloween for?

On the other hand, people with autism can also enjoy Halloween as it may help show-off their individuality. The scare fest is an ideal opportunity to express oneself through costume. Especially the youngest people on the spectrum may be enthusiastic about the opportunity to dress up as a character related to their interest. There is also an increased acceptance of diversity at Halloween and autistic children may feel more comfortable seeing diverse costumes their friends put on.

Source: TikTok: Atypowa dziewczyna

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