Halloween Holiday Tips (Julie's suggestions for parents to help children enjoy the holiday even more)
Include all of the senses: What senses can your child use to explore pumpkins both inside and out, or masks and costumes, or dry leaves and hay bales and Halloween decorations? Explore the senses of touch, texture, movement, smell, and taste together with your child with these seasonal items in your home, in their classroom, and at the store or park or pumpkin patch. Encourage your child to feel, smell, taste through mutual attention and hand-under-hand support. Think about visual and auditory features of items that your child might be able to see or hear, such as a dark orange pumpkin or black bat, or bells on costumes.
Surprises are spooky: Halloween is fun time to explore and try out new things, but it can also be scary and spooky for little children. However, even things that aren’t supposed to be frightening to young children can still be scary for a child who is deaf-blind and cannot anticipate what is happening or what might happen next. A child might feel scared or nervous when interacting with siblings, familiar peers, and teachers who are now dressed in costumes or masks, or when looking at a pumpkin that now has Jack-o-lantern’s grin, or when someone jumps close to them and shouts “Boo!”. Stay attentive and close to your child during times when unfamiliar or unexpected things might occur and try to avoid them if you know it will upset your child. Be available to comfort & reassure your child and provide them with information about the event & setting and jointly engage in the activity.
Build traditions and concepts: Think about the traditions or rituals your family already participates during the Halloween season. How can your child learn these rituals or traditions? Identify a particular parts or roles your child play in those traditions. Such as choosing the family pumpkin, handing out candy, placing items on a Dia de Los Muertos altar, or playing peek-a-boo with masks. You may need to add tactile, visual or auditory cues to materials you use so your child can learn the routine and participate with the family. There are also many new concepts to learn when learning tradition and rituals. What concepts will your child need to learn and how can help them learn those traditions? Perhaps that pumpkins come in many colors, shapes and textures and are hollow inside. We cut pumpkins and carve different “faces” into them. A jack-o-lantern looks different in the dark with a candle inside than during the day with no illumination inside. We also use plastic pumpkins to collect candy when we trick-or-treat. What about the idea of knocking on someone’s door and receiving candy…but only on one night of the year! Lots to learn.
Take your time, less is more: During busy and hectic holiday times it is important to remember that your child will still need the time they have always needed to gather information, respond to others, and explore in new settings and situations. Stay aware of this need and provide your child with this extra time. This may mean you plan extra time when going to the pumpkin patch or to carve a pumpkin. You may only go to 3 or 5 houses to trick-or-treat instead of several blocks, but those few encounters will be meaningful and quality visits. Trick-or-treaters may need to wait at your door a little longer while your child carefully helps to put candy in their buckets. That’s okay--your child and young neighbors are having a meaningful interaction. Be easy on yourself, don’t try to do it all, just make what you do with your child meaningful and fun!