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.
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!