Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Try This Tuesday: Halloween ideas

I know Halloween is still a little over a month away, but it's planning time for those of us who have to plan way in advance for these things. Personally, I love Halloween, mostly because I love all the costumes :). It's fun to get my kids dressed up (when they will let me) and see all the cute and creative costumes that other families come up with. I could do without the candy, usually we keep a little bit and I take the rest to work and leave it in a bowl on my desk for my co-workers to snack on.

Halloween can be challenging for children with sensory issues, such as sensitivity to different fabrics or difficulty with large crowds, or who have trouble with changes in routine, so I thought I'd share a few tips we have learned over the years with our kids.

Costumes can be uncomfortable for anyone, but for a child with sensory issues, they can be downright unbearable due to stiff or unfamiliar fabric, extra pieces / attachments, masks or face paint, etc. One thing that I have found helpful is to make costumes using regular clothes as the basis of the costume wherever possible. Sweatsuits are especially versatile and useful for costumes. Find one in the color you need (depending on what the costume is) and then you can attach decorations or whatever you want. From the child's perspective, it's no different than wearing sweats so as long as they are comfortable in sweats it should be tolerable for them to wear.

A couple of examples using sweatsuits:

Thing 1 and Thing 2 from 'Cat in the Hat'
with red sweats minus the blue hair

Costumes made from blue sweats,
Thomas fabric, and felt numbers

A couple of examples using "regular" clothes:

Bob the Builder outfits using overalls & flannel shirts
The hats didn't last long but they liked the toolbelts

They already had buzz-cuts, so one year we just
got camo shirts for "mini-Marine" costumes

As for the crowds and excitement, we have found it best to be flexible in terms of expectations, watch for signs of overstimulation and be prepared to bail if needed. Consider doing something a little more low-key. Many years, we have just taken the boys out for ice cream on Halloween. It's usually not crowded (because everyone else is out trick-or-treating or going to Halloween parties), it's a fun treat for them, and they can still show off their costumes :).

A couple of times we tried going to a Halloween party at church. The first time we went, the boys were 3 1/2 and it was way too much for them. The candy part didn't start until later, and by that time they were beyond overstimulated so we left and went for ice cream instead. The following year, we tried going late and got there just in time for the candy part, we missed the other activities but it worked out better for the boys. One year, we tried taking them to the mall for some trick-or-treating and that didn't go well. It was fine at first because we got there early, but as more people arrived it got really crowded and loud, and so we left that early too.

Last year, when I asked them about Halloween, Cuddlebug and Bearhug both told me they didn't want to do any trick-or-treating or parties (Bitty was too young to care one way or the other), so we did our traditional ice cream outing :). They opted not to wear costumes last year. Kind of a bummer for me but I respected their decision.

This year they tell me they want to dress up. I even have preliminary costume picks from Bearhug and Cuddlebug, but I'm not shopping or sewing just yet because I know they change their mind quite often. Once we get into October I'll get their final say on costumes and then start prepping. As for Bitty, we're all set. He doesn't really "get" Halloween so I don't think he'll care about his costume, but since the only thing he ever wants to wear is Thomas, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess he'll be cool with one of the Thomas costumes I made for his brothers when they were younger. :)

For more Try This Tuesday, visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs.


The Farmer Files on September 16, 2008 at 4:26 AM said...

All the costumes are cute, but my favorites are Bob the Builders and Thing 1 and Thing 2!

Anonymous said...

Great tips, all! Holidays are hard- mostly because I have to remember to put aside my own expectations and make things nice for Daniel...whatever that means for at the time.

Something we do with costumes- Daniel loves to pretend to be animals, so I try to get a few inexpensive costumes around Halloween that he can play with for the rest of the year. What happens when he realizes his alligator costume doesn't really fit anymore?? Ack! I don't know!!!

Anonymous said...

oh yeah! I LOVED the Bob the Builder costumes. SO cute...and Thing 1 and Thing 2 are just so funny! :D

Amazing_Grace on September 16, 2008 at 8:19 AM said...

Love the costumes!

I did a skeleton on my son's black sweats and it was quite a hit. :)

Jenny on September 16, 2008 at 10:06 AM said...

Thanks so much - this is a great topic! I'm always looking for costume ideas. We've had the same issues, particularly with costumes that involve a head piece (like an animal). So, I try to find costumes that have a simple hat and would work with or without it.

Last year, Jackson was a cowboy. He wore a regular t-shirt and the costume was a vest, pants, and cowboy hat. I think this year he's going to be a farmer - shirt, overalls, and a simple straw hat.

Bitsy on September 16, 2008 at 11:15 AM said...

Bug said he wants to be an elephant... gray sweats - you are just a genius!!!!!

PsychMamma on September 16, 2008 at 12:20 PM said...

Great costume ideas! Thanks for sharing your creativity.

Frogs' mom on September 16, 2008 at 1:19 PM said...

Great costumes. Love Thing one and Thing two :0)

We do the same thing around here. Diva picks out her costume a year in advance, but she doesn't like trick-or-treating. Last year I dressed Frog in his SPIO therapy suit and put a baseball jersey and dad's baseball cap on him. He had a costume and deep proprioceptive input all at once.

Lori on September 16, 2008 at 3:46 PM said...

Great post. Myah really struggles with this type of thing, especially church parties; we ususally don't last very long. I love your ideas. I think I will be looking for a cute sweat suit. I'm similar to you though, I love seeing my little ones dressed up. I guess it's not about me though, right!
Your boys are adorable!

Bobbi on September 16, 2008 at 5:36 PM said...

Those are great ideas! Parker is wary of coustumes too. The year before last my sister made him a fireman costume out of a red sweatsuit and some yellow felt. It was really cute and he didn't really feel like he wearing anything different! I love the thing one and thing two idea!

hellokittiemama on September 16, 2008 at 6:58 PM said...

I love the costumes starting from jogging suits - awesome!

Great advice!!!!!

Trish @ Another Piece of the Puzzle on September 16, 2008 at 9:53 PM said...

Great post! I love how you are thinking ahead and the costumes are adorable. I'm curious whether the boys have ever asked to be different things or if they prefer to be in similar costumes.


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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.


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