an autism journey

A Not So Typical Halloween

Holidays can be wonderful and amazing, but they can also be a tough reminder that our lives are not typical. Halloween is no exception. I have always allowed my son to dress up for Halloween. We picked something that was sensory friendly and prepared him ahead of time by talking about what we were going to do. Our church had a special trunk or treat event so we took him to that and only that. He knew the people passing out candy, and they knew his situation. Everyone was right there together, so he didn’t have to walk far or knock on doors. Perfect. Well, not exactly. It still caused him stress. He was nervous about walking up to the cars. He didn’t quite understand that you get one piece, not a handful. He was frightened by some of the costumes, and the groups of kids in close proximity was a bit much for him to handle. For us, Halloween lasted about 10 minutes and then we were back home. Each year I wondered why I bothered putting him through the stress of it all. Was I trying to force him to what I thought was a childhood rite of passage? Was I pushing a typical activity on a nontypical kid? Every year I ended up thinking maybe I should just have let him stay home. But somehow the next year we were right back at it with the same results.

So, this year, I didn’t think it would bother him to just skip the trick or treating. We just moved a couple months ago to a brand new town. We don’t know very many neighbors, and our new church doesn’t do a trunk or treat event, so our only option was old fashioned door to door. On top of all that, the forecast was calling for low temps and heavy rain. He doesn’t like to wear a rain jacket, a hood, or use an umbrella. The whole thing just didn’t seem worth it. It made me a little sad, but I just didn’t think he would be able to handle going door to door of strangers in the mass sea of costumed kids. I didn’t know that we could safely manage it. I opted to keep him home. I bought a huge bag of candy with his favorites (so he could enjoy as well) and prepared to simply pass out treats. He wasn’t going to care, or so I thought. I was wrong.

As kids started coming to the door, he insisted “shoes and socks.” When I asked where he wanted to go… “get candy.”

Ugh. I tried to explain, but he just didn’t understand. I clearly made the wrong choice. Chalk another one up to a special needs parenting failure. I thought it would be too much for him to handle and I made a choice I thought was best and safest, but he didn’t know that. He just knew what the others kids were doing and that he wasn’t. Parenting is tough enough, parenting a special needs child is even harder. And yet again another event to remind us how different our lives are for him and us.

Thankfully, Reese’s cups and KitKats cure a world of hurt fairly quickly. For him and me.


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