Autism and Halloween tweeking Halloween so it translates into fun for the autistic mind.

I love Halloween. I mean LOVE, luv, LOVE it!

My Dad and my Grampa fought over me wanting to trick or treat at 16. I didn’t want the treats, I wanted the experience.

Dressing up, running from house to house, feeling stoked that the air is Crisp and sharp, a hint of winter in the air.  Trees ugly and bare, their pretty leaves  damp and sloppy under foot.

Now, if you are thinking “16. well some kids are still pretty dinky and wimpy at 16…no biggy” I fully admit I did not look like a child at 16. I drank in bars. I had a chest, a BIG one. I worked full time. I drove a hot car and I was for all intents and purposes, Adult.

So anyhow…I truly enjoy the fun of the holiday and I want more then anything for my kids to embrace the childhood enjoyment of costumes and games and candy and indulgence.

The problem I face with my Autisic child is that he does not see things the same as typically developing children do.

He loves pumpkins and skeletons and spiders and CANDY (like really, he is not THAT different!) and even to some degree costumes but these things do not translate the same and he does not compute the situation the same.  Making Halloween fun for him takes a little work. Let me explain how it differs and my solutions to these snags.

As I enjoy a super sweet, extra icing cupcake (flourescent green and purple icing to be exact!) let me point out how the kids see halloween activities different.


I can put a costume together in like 2 minutes. I have a knack for it. I climb in my closet, start pulling and WHAMO! a gypsy, a geisha, a ragdoll, pirate, cowboy. Not going to win best costume or most creative but there you go. I think dressing up is one of the BEST things about Halloween. The chance to be someone else for a night. Something playful and fun.

Putting on a costume seems to be easy but for my son Lincoln it isn’t something easy to do. In Lincolns mind you “become” the new identity, it envelopes you. Maybe it is harder for an autistic mind to process the action of ‘dressing up’ Maybe it is taken too literally. Whatever the reason, I find he is less agreeable to dress up and at times he absolutely refuses.He will say “I am Lincoln the boy! not a transformer, ghost, pirate, etc” Sometimes he runs and hides.

Today, I heard him tell his Aunt that Lincoln was underneath his jailbird costume and then he proceeded to lift the striped leg of his prison pants and show her his real pants underneath.

My other 2 kids seem oblivious to the fact they have changed personas. They are just themselves but dressed up as another.

Lincoln also finds it hard to be in a larger group of kids or people.

We had a really fun Halloween party for my 2 older boys classes. One is in SK one in grade one. I had 6 SK’s over first and Lincoln retreated to the computer for the party. He had no interest in the kids or the games being played. I was reluctant to leave him to his vices but he was happy and my Dad watched him and he was not melting down because of the noise or change so I considered the fact it could be worse and I went and enjoyed the kids in the other room.

At the appointed time parents came and collected the Sk kids and the grade one kids arrived. LIncoln sprang into action and it pleased me immensely to see him playing with the kids from his class, wanting to tell a scary story and play games.

Was it that he was indifferent to kids he did not normally interact with? Probably. They don’t mean anything to him and in his mind it was ok to ignore them.

I learned that it is ok at times to hang back and not force him to take part because he has his own thinking and logic for his actions. Maybe I don’t think like that but I must respect his comfort zone too.


My son loves pumpkins. Tipping them, watching them fall and crack and it tickles him to see them SPLAT!


Boys like destruction at 6 and it is ALL boys, not just mine.

Lincoln loves the ‘result’ of his action. If he gently taps the pumpkin that is perched on a wall he can watch it tumble to the grass, or even better smack the pavement with a burst of orange stringy guts. 9 times out of 10 he then wants it to magically revert back to a perfect orange masterpiece (and he still thinks it will) I think he likes the simplness of the pumpkin. He doesn’t really agree with a jack-o-lantern. Pumpkins don’t have faces! Silly!

Trick or treating thankfully has never been an issue. He is chocolate motivated like his dad and if you gotta dress up to get it, so be it!

I am happy that we could just change a few things to make Halloween a happy experience…young and old a like, it is a fun day everyone should enjoy!

Have a Spooktacular Halloween!


4 thoughts on “Autism and Halloween tweeking Halloween so it translates into fun for the autistic mind.

  1. My 6 year old son is autistic too and like the pumpkins when they are not in the house. We went to the pumpkin patch this year to get one and he picked one out but as soon as be got it home he didnt want it in the house. Not sure what it is but he just doesnt like them in the house. I started cutting it up and pulling all the stuff out and had to touch it and he cried. So now I have to put them in the fridge and wait till he goes to sleep to cut it up and put it outside. He does love to play with it outside though. He loves to dress up in anything. He doesnt talk much so its hard to get him to say trick or treat. So I know what you mean when you had to change a few things to keep it fun for the kids 🙂 Have a Happy Halloween

    • I think cutting up something likeable may be hard ti understand for them because they see the pumpkin as whole. It would be like cutting you or I up, upsetting right? I guess it is hard to understand the reason for it.
      If he likes the final jack-o-lantern and you get to enjoy that maybe hiding the process of getting from pumpkin to jack-o-lantern isn’t so bad (just a little more work for Mom!) you rock! Best to you and enjoy the treats!


  2. Maybe seeing them outside initially, he just knew they are “outside things”? My four year old is non-verbal, and is always bewildered by the whole Halloween process. He is the youngest boy out of four. My ten year old is also on the spectrum, but high functioning Asperger’s, so he loves the whole thing. Although he wants to be whatever he is fixating on at the moment, which is always some bizarre video game character I have to throw together. LOL! I would love to know how to make the holidays make more sense for Zach (my little guy).

    • My oldest son (out of 4 boys too) is high functioning but I find at times that is hard because people expect him to act normally and sometimes he does not. You must find it challenging having two on different parts of the spectrum as you have to treat each situation so different it is double the thinking 🙂 Is there any aspect your little guy likes about halloween? I found simply asking my son to do the part he already likes helps and not forcing the other parts (unless they are agreeable to try) It seems like we just don’t want to be bothered, but really it is making things more enjoyable for the child…Happy Halloween!

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