When People Ask Why I Don't Leave My Son With Autism Home on Halloween
With Halloween fast approaching, I’m sure everyone has gotten their costumes sorted out, candy bought, pumpkins carved and houses decorated to delight even the ghostliest of visitors. Halloween has always been a favorite of mine and my husband’s. In fact, we love it more than Christmas. Before we had children, Halloween parties were always fun to attend. Getting to be someone else for an evening was rather fun.
When we started having children, our hopes to pass down our love of this holiday just added to our excitement. Cute costumes for babies and toddlers. The joy of seeing them get their first piece of candy in their bag. Getting grossed out over pumpkin guts.
But that all changed when we had our children with autism.
Autism is a funny thing. It’s unpredictable. You never know what is going to be a trigger. So with Halloween being one of those holiday where things don’t appear to be what they normally are, we had to brace ourselves for the possibility that the holiday we loved so much would be celebrated differently.
Most of the general population doesn’t understand why this would be a triggering holiday. From the costumes choices( or lack there of) to the inability to utter those famous words, “Trick or treat!” to not understanding the concept of why we don’t go directly into someone’s house even through they are giving out treats. People don’t understand the strobe lights or the fog machines put our sensory-sensitive children into a tailspin. I don’t expect them to fully get it. It’s just the way things are. But what I do expect is for people to have some understanding that there are little ghouls and ghosts out there trying to do their best at trick-or-treating.
Our son, who is nonverbal, has a hard time with this. I’ve been asked on many occasions why I didn’t leave him home. Well, the answer is simple. I will not shut him out of society because other people aren’t comfortable with his existence. He has every right to be with his brother and sister trick-or-treating. My response is always the same. He is just a little puzzle piece who says, “Boo” in his own little way.
Halloween and every holiday is for everyone. It doesn’t matter how they experience the world. They are entitled to partake in the festivities.
Please, if you do see a child who might be scared or overwhelmed, be a comfort to him or her. If they’re not wearing a costume, don’t get on their case about it. It could be that the costume is made from a material that bothers them. And if they don’t say, “Trick or treat,” it could be that they can’t. They would if they could. And for most of us parents who love this time of year, hearing that would be awesome. But a lot of us just want our children to be accepted.
Just remember that there are going to be children out there who say, “Boo!” or “Trick or treat” in their own way.
This post originally appeared on Spouse, Kids and Special Needs Aren’t Issued in a Seabag?
Read more from Andrea Thomason on The Mighty:
To Anyone Who Thinks My Children With Autism Don’t Realize When Their Dad Is Deployed
My Childhood Friend Taught Me a Valuable Lesson About Special Needs Parenting
When You Get Your Child’s Diagnosis, Remember This