Halloween with speech and communication difficulties…

Last year J went trick or treating for the first time (with family). He loved knocking on doors as he was REALLY into doors at that stage. He would knock on them, then want to shut the door as soon as it was opened. His cousin did all the talking.

Luckily J was 1 and cute enough in his batman outfit that he didn’t need to talk. Everyone thought he was adorable and gave him the sweets and chocolate (I will add here that we gave the sweets to his cousin and J had the chocolate…the idea of him with that much sugar is a scary thought).

This year J will be 2…well closer to 3. We won’t have my niece with us this time but I still want J to join in the Halloween fun. So I will be taking him to a few houses on our street (ones that I know join in Halloween). But will his cuteness be enough this time or will there be that expectation to say the magic words, ‘Trick or Treat‘?

So here’s my plan: Cant say the words? Use the Makaton…

I admit I’m not sure what the sign for ‘trick or treat’ is but I do know ‘happy halloween’. If you go on the Makaton charity website you’ll find a FREE Halloween download showing all the main signs and symbols. There’s also a great video on YouTube that demonstrates them for you. By using Makaton (with me saying it as both of us sign it) it encourages J to join in and will show the ‘host’ that this is a child with communication difficulties. Hopefully this will lead to understanding that he’s not necessarily going to speak/communicate how they might expect.

I have also seen buckets and tshirts with ‘I have Autism’ and ‘I can’t talk please be patient’. Have a google or look on Instagram and Etsy. Or make your own little sticker to go on your treat bucket. You may not want to advertise your child’s difficulties but it’s an option if you feel it will work for your family.

Other options you could explore this Halloween:

  • Host a Halloween party in your home. Have friends and family come to you so your little one gets to enjoy the treats and fun without the anxiety of trying to communicate.
  • Go as a gang! Not an option for us this year but see if friends want to come with you so there’s less pressure solely on your little one. If you’re brave maybe ask around at preschool, school or local parent Facebook pages
  • Stay home and let your child answer the door. They can have the fun of listening to others saying it and getting to interact on their own ‘territory’. You can have fun decorating, read Halloween stories and play games.
  • Look at local events. There may be fun parties and activities at local parks, children centres, leisure centres, shopping centres, community centres  (lots of centres). This way your child can have Halloween fun but again, without the 1:1 pressure of trick or treating. But on the flip side, going to these activities and being surrounded by the language and words of Halloween might give your child the confidence to give it a go!
  • Practise at home. Maybe use stuffed toys or action figures and role play Trick or Treating. That way you can rehearse the phrase and it’s not such a ‘shock’.

I know Halloween can be a bit of a marmite topic. I personally love Halloween and see it as a time of community and fun. I make sure J respects that we only go to houses that are decorated and leave those not celebrating in peace. I check the treats and give him ones that are sealed and appropriate for his age. I make it as safe as possible but also fun.

How do you celebrate?x

(Look it for our Halloween Sensory Activities post coming out next week…)

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