The Children’s Autism Services of Edmonton held a practice trick-or-treat session for kids with autism. The event can be overwhelming for these kids, but that doesn’t mean they have to miss out on the fun. With a little bit of practice, both for the kids and their guardians, the holiday can be fully enjoyed by everyone.
Halloween can be overwhelming to the senses. Visually, it’s a lot. Everyone is in elaborate costumes, whether they’re cute or scary. It can be hard to distinguish who is who and what is real when everyone is in character. Other than that, the decorations can also be overwhelming to a kid with autism. Everything is meant to look spooky, and any kid can get scared by being put in that environment.
Noise is a big thing for kids with autism. During Halloween, there are many trick-or-treaters out and about, so the noise of crowds with excited children, parents, and teenagers can be stressful for them. Jump scares from other people around may be particularly frightening for them. Sudden loud noises accompanied by the spooky environment can really traumatize a kid.
When speaking to Global News about the practice run, Sharon Secondcost expressed an important concern: her daughter’s ability to speak. She has difficulty articulating her thoughts and her vocabulary isn’t that wide, so getting her to say “trick or treat” is a challenge. At the centre, her daughter gets to practice saying it, and Secondcost rehearses what to tell people who try to force her child to say the phrase before giving candy. The centre wishes to remind people that not all kids who don’t reply to them are rude; some just have difficulty speaking.
A total of 120 kids practiced knocking at doors in the centre. They were all dressed up and ready for Halloween, so the centre looked like a huge dress rehearsal for an event. It was good preparation for both the kids and their guardians for what to expect during their night of trick-or-treating. With the help of centres like these, more autistic kids won’t have to miss out on the fun just because things are a bit scarier to them than most.