5 Sensory Friendly Activities to do With Your Special Needs Kiddos
By Andrea Watson | October 8, 2020
The weather is cooling down, the leaves are starting to turn, and every kid in Christendom can taste candy at the back of their throats. Yes, beauties, it is my favorite month of the year-Halloween (see what I did there? lol)!!! Whether you are a ghost or a goblin, I’m sure that there is something for you to do this October 31st, especially since the big night falls on a Saturday. Hooray!! But what about those little ghoulies that don’t necessarily enjoy the regular festivities? Those sensory input sensitive littles; perhaps autistic but definitely not fans of loud noise, bright lights, and big crowds? Is normal trick-or-treating really what they want to do? What will they truly enjoy? Only you know your kid better than they know themselves, so you be the judge. But if pounding the pavement door-to-door is not the answer for your tiny minion, maybe one or a few of these suggestions will be. So join me for the Samhain ritual (blog post in this case) as I take you through my list of 5 sensory friendly activities you can do with your special needs kiddos.
One: Music time.
I know, I KNOW! But hear me out on this! Some different types of music can be soothing to sensitive ears instead of abrasive. If this doesn’t apply to your kiddo, feel free to skip ahead. But I think it’s worth a try. There are some songs, artists, and styles that actually help my eight year old autistic son to calm the f*@# down instead of get overstimulated. He loves the moonlight sonata, but he also loves real, authentic, witchy Halloween music. Loreena McKennit is excellent for that. Not only is the music in alignment with the spirit of The Season, but her voice is beautiful and her songs melodic. You really can’t go wrong. If more than one song at a time is too much, try having a countdown to Halloween using a different song every day. And make sure to do it at the same time every day as well. We all know that routine is key.
Two: Buy the store brand carving tool set.
I don’t usually advocate for this, but here I gotta. Yes, the good old sharp as hell kitchen knife wielding has to make way for the more comfortable carving tool set. Not only do the blades have blunted tips, but the scoop handles are fatter than your average spoon. You may not realize it, but these types of handles are actually friendlier for sensory needs kids. They are easier to grasp and have more weight to them (a definite bonus). These kits usually don’t cost too much, and it’s well worth it to enjoy pumpkin carving time just like neurotypicals. If the guts and seeds are too much for your little one, why don’t you be the designated scooper? Or better yet, get special markers instead of carving tools and have a blast slapping color all over that bad boy. This is not the way it’s normally done? Who the hell cares? Yours is not a “normally” type situation anyway. Have fun.
Three: Bake a pie.
That’s right, bake a damn pie. From scratch. With your beloved ones. Trust me, no kid is more eager than a sensory-sensitive little guy or gal with a mission to help mom. After all, it’s a super important job and mom may not really know what she’s doing (thanks a lot, Sara Lee). Pie isn’t your thing? Well try another type of baked good, perhaps one that includes candy toppings they can munch on while they decorate. Cookies are great, but why not try these Halloween cupcakes on for size? Country Living is a great site for ideas, and so is Pinterest (Oh, the pins! I just can’t get enough!) Whichever route you go, you can move at your own pace, taste along the way, and end up with a fabulous batch of whatever to share with those you choose.
Four: Trunk or Treat.
Yep. In the full light of day or lit interior. No crazy confusing lights flashing and flickering, no ginormous crowds pushing you along. Just the sweet and simple act of begging strangers for candy in a nice, organized fashion. Do some research. Check out what’s going down in your town. Heck, one might even fall on actual Halloween this year (Saturday!). Churches, malls, nursing homes, and offices are good starting points for your search. I bet you can find one relatively close that you can take your little home-made costume clad kiddo to without a big hassle and very minimal fuss. As long as the lights are on and the happenings organized, get in line, stock up on sugary sweets, and call it good. Boom. Candy achieved.
Five: Perform a quiet Samhain ritual.
And here we arrive at the reason for the season. If you didn’t know before, I am here to tell you that Samhain (on halloween midnight) is a Pagan holiday and more than that, it is a witchy holiday-very Halloweeny. It’s a time to honor departed spirits and reflect on our own lives. Now, Samhain is a religious holiday in our household, as we follow the Wiccan path. If this is not for you, I understand, but if it is or might be, have a listen. A lovely, quiet ritual that may involve a prayer to the goddess, some choice words, and the passing of a goblet (cup) full of grape juice can really have your kiddos feeling included. They will enjoy this family bonding time and plus they get to stay up hella late (you may need a big nap time beforehand). Now I don’t condone doing this if you are not feeling it, or just to satisfy your own curiosity. But if this idea really speaks to you, look around online. Learn what Samhain is all about, collect ideas for the ritual and get prepared! Or simply look here for some great pointers. Whatever you do, keep little ones occupied to preserve the sanctity of what you are taking part in. You may be surprised-they may enjoy the solemnity or in a different case wildness of it all and demand a tradition be started!
So there you have it, my five brilliant ideas for sensory-friendly Halloween activities. I do hope you enjoy them. I also hope you can add even more to this list with your own creativity and brain-powers. If you do, share them with me in the comments, I would love to hear all about it! Til next time, lovelies. I’m out. Have a spooktacular Halloween season.