Trick-or-treating advice for kids with autism

Posted at 4:14 PM, Oct 30, 2015
and last updated 2016-10-30 16:32:19-04

Our Detroit affiliate WXYZ welcomed Melissa Almanza, a board-certified behavior analyst with the Macomb Oakland Regional Center in Michigan, to discuss tips for trick-or-treating with autistic children.

Almanza said she recommends basing what children do for Halloween around the child’s preferences.

“A lot of our kids have sensitivities or have a little bit of sensory issues, so trying to recognize what their (costume) preferences are,” Almanza said. “If you know they don’t like hoods or masks, try to stay away from that. Some of them don’t like scratchy materials, so synthetic materials can be uncomfortable. It is about knowing your child.”

Almanza said that autistic children do well with repetition. With trick-or-treat only being a once-a-year activity, she recommends practicing before going out into the neighborhood.

“We do a lot of practicing with knocking, with saying ‘trick-or-treat’ and saying ‘thank you,’” Almanza said. “If a child is verbal, give them those extra opportunities to practice before. If not, you can always work with them.”

If a child simply does not want to knock on doors, Almanza said there are other possibilities for children with autism.  Other possibilities include trunk-or-treat, being the one to hand out candy or to go to a relative’s home.

Almanza also added that many children have food allergies, so it might be helpful for residents distributing candy to have non-candy items such as pencils and stickers.

Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @jjboggs.