A Note To Our Readers: Welcome to our BBB Guides, a series of documents by parents, for parents on various topics.  When searching the web, I could find little in the way practical solutions to issues like handling Halloween.  Our message board, however always contains such fantastic tips offered by our experts: parents of children with ASD.  These are parents of various ages, their children are affected with various severities and they are all different ages.  About half of our contributors have more than one child on the spectrum. 

I hope you enjoy this guide and the upcoming series; and that they are helpful to you.  If you would like to contribute to or have ideas for future guides, please email me at

Thanks to all our great parent-contributors. It couldnít be done it without you!

Note: Our children are referred to as first initials only and we donít include last names. We never publish these comments without permission from the contributor. Husbands/wives are not mentioned by name either.

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by ~Bernie~

A's dressing up as a pumpkin. We originally wanted him to dress up as an M&M but he wasn't having it. He likes wearing costumes especially if itís of a character he knows and as long as it doesn't have a headpiece. He hates having his head covered.

His school does the party and parade thing. It's hard because the scary costumes really upset him. So when we take the boys trick or treating I stay with him all the time and dear hubby hangs with our other son. I usually just put A in the wagon and ride him around the neighborhood. I think he goes more for the ride than anything.

But we always include him.

Our Experience...
by Bev

L won't wear costumes either, so first year I put him in a black turtleneck and black tights and tried unsuccessfully to draw black whiskers on his face. But he looked like a cat good enough. Last year I put him in a fireman's costume, without the hat, I was able to slip on the plastic coat over his regular coat.  This year, it's a cowboy, I'll make a vest out of felt and stick a sheriffís badge on it, put that over his jacket. I bought a cowboy hat; don't know if he'll wear it though.

As for going door to door, no problem with L, he likes doing that because he thinks he's going to get into everybody's house that way. He's not sure why we don't go inside each house, but he's motivated by following our flashlights, and the fact he's outside in the dark. We also bring a wagon, so if it gets too much, I can just pull him along.

My Experience....
by Lynn in BC

We have always enjoyed Halloween. The kids don't like the scary costumes so they have always been movie characters of some kind or a princess or clown. I think my trouble will be when A is too old to go trick or treating and he won't understand that time is over for trick or treating! Aah but we got through Santa so I am sure that this too will be ok!

As for going door to door we live in a town house so we have a built in neighborhood of kids that they know and their parents so we started just with that and my boss loves the kids so we would go over to her house and they would get special things there and then they go to their aunts' houses and their grandmas house. So we have a routine of where we go and A follows it to the letter every year.
C wants to do the museum's haunted house this year and I am really not sure how that will go but we will attempt it!

All Hallows Even
by Khris

I think for costumes it's important to take the sensory issues into account. (If they hate hats- find a costume without one, etc) It's also a good thing to try to get a costume they are drawn to, like a favorite character. Having them help pick a costume out (if they are able) is always a good idea; this can even be done online if stores are too stimulating. Like all other things, repetition is the key for many kids. A simple social story read many times the weeks before, and role playing or practicing for the big day work wonders for many children. You can prepare kids for trick or treating by making a "trick or treat alley" in the hallway of your home. Have some friends join you in hiding behind the closed doors and allowing the kids to trick or treat at home a few times before the big night. And above all let Halloween be their night, and not about what your expectations are. Maybe your child can only handle a hat this year, maybe he stops after 2 houses, maybe he can't do the knocking or say trick or treat, but however he is able to- let him enjoy this holiday. (Including staying home and handing out candy)

R LOVES Halloween
by Tina

R went to a party for his Saturday group and they had a blast!  The Saturday group is a group of 8 local individuals with ASD that get together for a day camp

He was a mummy, a Goosebumps costume so itís pretty neat looking.  The camp leader told me she had a hard time getting him to take the mask off for bobbing for apples lol!

R has always enjoyed Halloween...

K is a bit leery though. Last year we passed a house who had someone pretending to be a decoration suddenly come to life and my 10 year old decided to tell him he couldn't catch her so poor K was sitting in her stroller watching a suddenly alive monster chase her screaming sister up the block lol...she burst out in tears and that was the end of that for her. Dear hubby took her home.

Hopefully she won't remember that incident this year.  She is looking forward to being a mud monster (another Goosebumps costume)

Great Comments Thus Far!!
By Chris

N used to hate Halloween!  He couldn't understand why in the world we would go to a strange house and request candy. LOL On to social stories! He also hated anything on his face. He usually picks a character he has a passion for so it is easy to slip into character, and I mean literally. Last year he was a dog and barked the entire time they paraded around the parking lot. This year they did a unit on bats he enjoyed so he wants to be a bat. His other choice was a mummy, a character on his Pac Man. We keep it to a minimum and only go to the familiars. Love all the advice given. Khris had some wonderful options.

Every Year it Goes BAAAAD! lol
by Michelle E

This is the worst holiday for B for some reason. It throws him for a loop every year.

When he was 3, he ate the candy before it hit the bag. That year he really wasn't talking - just eating the junk lol. I remember this because I was pregnant with D and I could barely walk by the end of the block. When B returned home, he crashed on his bed at 5 pm and never got up until morning. I think it was a big sensory overload. I thought he was in a sugar coma.

When he was 4(almost 5) he was really crabby. We were with friends and going up and down the street (to a bunch of stores) He had learned to speak a bit and at one store which I have never returned to since the lady gave him a piece of candy that he apparently didn't like. He said to he screaming "I don't want your F'n candy." God I was mortified lol. My friend still gets hysterical when she remembers that - she was with me.

Every year since that was a blur except I remember last year like it was yesterday. It was Danny's first real trick or treating experience and he LOVED it.  Dear hubby always takes off of work to come trick or treating with us and things started out on a great note- I took the pictures and off we went. The first door was fine. The second the boys started to fight over the doorbell. By the 4th door - B was in a rage over the doorbell and freaked out. He hurled his candy (which was in a pumpkin onto the ground (someoneís lawn) and stripped out of his Scooby Dooby Doo outfit. He threw off his head (Scooby head) and started to unzip his outfit. LOL I talked him into going to a few more houses (with out the head) and he would ring the doorbell and then walk a way -leaving me looking stupid at the door when it was answered. Halloween was officially over for him when Scooby's head came off.

We went home after that and that was it. HE handed out candy the rest of the day and was happy. IT was pretty wacky.

I am waiting to see what happens this year. HE went from being Scooby to wanting to be the Grim Reaper. Nice huh? Actually he is some ghoul with a big oozing brain. R is being a ninja for the 6th time in the last 9 years and D is being Mickey mouse although originally he wanted to be a guitar. Why??? I don't know.

I will let you know how this year goes. Itís always something lol.

by Brian

Both the boys are going as Buzz Lightyear.  I havenít put their outfits on yet so we will see how it goes, in the past K has worn the costumes but no mask. He goes to the doors etc, if no answer he just kicks the door in and the boys raid the place, while I act as a lookout!  Just make sure to go out with the full intentions of having to turn back around and go home, that is the way I have learned to accept any new adventure!

Hope yíall have ghoulish time!

by Lynn D

D has a hard time realizing that we are not going to visit people inside their homes. He tried last year to go inside everyoneís house. At least the first few anyways. He seemed to get it after about 6 houses. We only go around our block and to houses we know. I try and find the least restricting costume that I can find. No mask, no make up, no hat. I found a soft jersey material doctor outfit for him this year that is similar to a sweat suit. It does have a surgical mask, which I know he wonít wear, but you can tell what he is still. I would let recommend letting your child take the lead on going out to trick or treat, put his/her costume on him a couple times before Halloween and let him/her walk around in it to get the feel. If he doesn't want to go house to house with you, try and get him to hand out candy to the kids with you. At least he will have participated somewhat. Dís school has a Halloween parade at school and I hope when he sees the other kids in costume; he will want his on too. Sometimes we have to pick our battles, so take it easy!

Please note: The information contained within this guide and the other BBB Guides are not the advice of a physician.  This Guide contains strategies, tips and opinions as offered by other parents of ASD kids.  Always seek medical advice.

BBB Autism does not recommend any particular therapy/intervention, but ALWAYS endorses your right to be INFORMED!!!


CONTAINS PRACTICAL INFORMATION BY PARENTS FOR PARENTS Available on request, e-mail and ask for: (now available in PDF format) also available on our website at:

1.      Halloween

2.      Epsom Salts (and calcium) - expanded version

3.      Epsom Salts - condensed

4.      Pros and Cons of telling your ASD child his/her diagnosis

5.      How we advocate for our children

6.       Guide to holidays and large family gatherings

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