How to Have a Sensory-Friendly Halloween

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

Halloween is an exciting time of year for children as they eagerly anticipate dressing up in costumes and trick-or-treating. For some children, however, this holiday can present unique challenges. The unfamiliarity of costumes, sensory overload from decorations, and the unpredictability of trick-or-treating can make Halloween overwhelming. As a parent or caregiver, there are several tips you can follow to help prepare your child for Halloween and ensure it’s an enjoyable experience for them.

Choose the right costume. Selecting a costume that is comfortable and sensory-friendly is crucial. Consider your child’s sensory preferences and sensitivities when picking out a costume. Opt for soft, non-itchy fabrics, and avoid costumes with tight elastic bands, scratchy labels, or masks that might obstruct their vision. If your child has a favourite character or theme, try to incorporate it into their costume choice to make it more appealing.

Practice wearing the costume. Before Halloween night, introduce the costume gradually. Allow your child to wear it for short periods around the house to get used to the sensation. If they express discomfort or resistance, be patient and understanding. Make adjustments as needed, like removing tags or altering the costume for a better fit.

Plan for the day. Create a visual schedule or social story that explains the Halloween festivities step-by-step. Include pictures or drawings to illustrate activities like dressing up, going trick-or-treating, and receiving candy. Review this visual schedule with your child in the days leading up to Halloween to help them understand what to expect.

Use sensory-friendly decorations. Halloween decorations can be overwhelming for children with sensory sensitivities. Consider decorating your home with sensory-friendly options, like soft LED lights instead of flashing ones and quieter decorations. Involving your child in decorating decisions can give them a sense of control over their environment.

Practice trick-or-treating. The act of going door-to-door and interacting with strangers can be stressful for some children. To prepare, practice trick-or-treating at home or with a friend. Teach your child to say “trick-or-treat” and “thank you” or use communication tools, such as picture cards if needed.

Choose the right time. Consider going trick-or-treating outside of peak hours to avoid crowds and reduce sensory overload. Late afternoon or early evening can be less hectic than prime trick-or-treating times.

Plan for sensory breaks. Have a plan for sensory breaks during Halloween activities. If your child becomes overwhelmed, identify a quiet and safe space where they can take a break to regroup. Bringing sensory tools such as fidget toys or noise-cancelling headphones can also be helpful.

Respect your child’s preferences. Keep in mind that not every child will enjoy or want to participate in Halloween activities. You want to respect your child’s preferences and how they would most enjoy celebrating. If they are not interested in trick-or-treating, you can find alternative ways to celebrate, like having a quiet movie night at home or a small gathering with friends and family.

With the right preparation and support, all children can enjoy a fun and positive Halloween experience! For more support with preparing your child for holidays, contact us at