New Tools for an Autism Friendly Halloween

It's time of year again. It's time to start prepping for a fun night of Trick or Treating. We want to help you make sure everyone has a safe and fun experience. We created this post for creating an autism friendly Halloween and we have also updated this helpful print out to use for non-verbal children or children who need a little assistance trick or treating. Happy Halloween! Download the free printable here.


Fireworks and Your Special Needs Child

Fireworks are wonderful and traditional part of Independence Day celebrations. Having a special needs child can make this holiday a challenge, but with preparation, it doesn’t have to be. The following is a list of tips for helping a child prepare for fireworks displays and Fourth of July celebrations.

1. Start reading books or articles about the Fourth of July and what it means for the United States of America. If your child understands the concept of birthdays, explain this is America’s birthday.  Perhaps make a flag themed or patriotic food for the day for example fruit in the shape of an American flag or a red, white & blue birthday cake.

2. Talk about the events of the day. Managing expectations with a visual chart will help your child understand the activities planned for the day. This is especially important for those children who expect the same routine day to day. Marking a calendar and counting down the days is a great way to create enthusiasm for the day. Many children thrive on routine and moving from one activity to another is easier if they understand exactly what is going to happen next.

3. Research the fireworks displays in your area. Choose the show with the most variety in viewing areas. Children who cannot tolerate crowds or noise can benefit from a fireworks show viewable from a vehicle.

4. Explain how fireworks work and what they are made of. Describe all of the colors, smells, and sounds. Use this coloring sheet to fill in the bright colors and location of the fireworks. If possible watch videos of fireworks displays in advance.

5. Plan for the day by practicing with ear covers, scarves and blankets that will be used if seated outside. If possible, have your child help prepare the “go to” bag with toys, treats or comforting items to take along to the show.

6. Enjoy the celebration the best way possible. Going in with an open mind and back-up plan will allow everyone to have a great event.

While most fireworks displays are relatively short, each experience big or small is helping your child feel confident about celebrations and new things. Take lots of pictures that can be used as tools for years to come.

Back To School

Going back to school can be hard for any child, especially one diagnosed with autism. Here are some suggestions for making the transition back to school as smooth as possible:

1. Get a calendar for your child and mark the day school starts. Cross off the days as they pass leading up to that first day, reminding them each time how many days remain until school begins.

2. Include your child in back to school shopping: Allow the child to pick his or her new outfit, school supplies, or lunch box for the first day of school.

3. Try using these newly bought back to school items to role play the first day of school. You can pretend to be various adults (teacher, bus driver, etc.) that the child will have to interact with at school. This can help to get your child excited or at least reduce any anxiety that he or she may feel about returning to school.