Halloween and kids with autism: How to be inclusive

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s Halloween weekend, and families everywhere are excited to go trick-or-treating this weekend after many not being able to last year. Experts say it’s important to be inclusive this holiday, especially toward kids with autism.

The biggest takeaway is being proactive this Halloween. While some families might disclose that their child has autism, others may not. That’s why experts say it’s important to be kind to everyone.

“Having some extra preparation is really important,” said Jen Westerhuis, a certified autism specialist with Easterseals Michigan.

Westerhuis says for children on the spectrum, Halloween can be stressful.

“There’s a lot of different rules and things that we may go against, like walking out at night, dressing up in different costumes, seeing different people, going to strangers’ houses and talking to them, when that’s typically a rule that we try to abide by not doing,” said Westerhuis.

Westerhuis says parents can prepare their kids by talking about the expected changes during the holiday and trying on their costumes ahead of time. You can also get your child a blue bucket, which will let people know that your child is on the spectrum.

“All of those things can help prepare kids and kind of eliminate or decrease some of that stress by giving them more of what to expect on that day,” said Westerhuis.

For those handing out candy, there are ways to make these families feel welcome.

“A sign that if you want to post on your house, that you’re an autism-friendly house to come trick-or-treating at, just being aware that, you know, a kid that walks right up and puts their hand in the candy bucket that they are trying their best just to participate,” said Westerhuis.

Overall, Westerhuis says it’s important to be kind and just remember that all kids want to have fun.

“This is a holiday that we all want to participate in, whatever our skill level is,” said Westerhuis.

More tips on how to help kids with autism have the best Halloween possible can be found online

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