Trick or Treating any ‘witch’ way you look at it!
Growing up, I LOVED trick or treating! It was different from how Halloween is celebrated here in the US; in England, dressing up for Halloween meant being scary! I remember making ‘face masks’ with my brothers using flour and water… We would giggle and play as we smeared this cold, lumpy goop onto our faces, trying our best to resemble the scariest witch or zombie with pieces of ‘skin’ literally hanging on! Memories and traditions that I thought for sure I would share one day with my own family when I became a parent.
As it happens, it will be of no surprise to many of you that this memory of Halloween wasn’t exactly in the top 10 of Halloween activities for my tactile sensitive kiddo T… Goop, cold, smear, face…...Urrm, that will be a solid NO!
As I look back, I can’t help but think about how nostalgia pulls at the autism parent... Often and HARD! We find ourselves wishing we could carry on the traditions we grew up with. Sometimes because they are fun and memorable or have a deeper connection. Other times, maybe we over fantasize what fun they really were and are just continuing with what we thought the holiday should look like...Hmmm.
So often we find nostalgia just doesn’t sync up with reality for our community.
For T, we so very much wanted him to be able to participate in trick or treating, but knew there were so many hurdles we would have to overcome first… The unpredictability of what people look like and what they might do. The scary scenes and sounds. The dogs barking every time the doorbell rings(!). The social interactions, the cold, and even the different feel of costume fabrics and accessories… No, going out trick or treating was not going to be a simple task.
So instead of trying to force the issue and have a negative experience, we decided we would adopt the activity: We took it in baby steps. First, just having an outfit prop that T could play with as we stayed home and handed out candy; the following year, adding a costume from a super-preferred theme and going to 1 or 2 prearranged houses before any other kiddos were out.
That year felt like we had hit the BIG LEAGUES! Fist pump… I know some of you know exactly what I mean. The following year, the whole outfit with headwear and footwear... Say what?! But again, for a shorter duration, adding in a few more houses, then progressively building up to the full experience. One year, we even made a Halloween themed bowling game and had the neighbor kids toss his ball with him on their way around trick or treating.
A 5-yr. journey to trick or treating, but it worked for us, and how excited we were when we did it!
Uncertainty and taking an open approach to activities is second nature to our community. We thrive in this environment, and I’m sure you’ve celebrated many successes along the way. As we near Halloween 2020, it is not just our community facing this challenge. EVERYBODY is wondering what trick or treating will look like in the COVID19 era. We are all wondering how to still let the kiddos have fun while following guidelines and staying safe. One idea my dear neighbor and awesome autism mama shared with our community is an inclusive event for all residents:
A reverse trick or treat parade.
A reverse trick or treating parade is much like the drive-by birthday parades that became popular during COVID19. But instead of shouting out birthday wishes as they go by, the cars - decorated (or not) for Halloween - throw out candy to the neighborhood ghouls and goblins standing safely at distance in their front yards. You could even have awards for the best costume and best-decorated car! HOW FUN! The vote is not yet in whether our neighborhood will pass this (we have strict rules), but my fingers are crossed!
I’m sure you have many other great ideas on how to make Halloween fun in the COVID19 era, and as always I would love to hear from you about what your Halloween plans are or what new ideas you have come up with. Please email me and share photos of your kiddos and how you celebrated. Together we can find lots of fun ways to keep the Spirit (not evil) 🙂 alive this Halloween!
Stay safe and well,