four children wearing their halloween costumes, a little girl as Hello Kitty, a little boy as Thomas the Tank Engine, a little girl as a space pilot, and a boy as a piece of pizza

How to Prepare your Special Needs Child for Halloween

How to Prepare your Special Needs Child for Halloween

Many families look forward to the excitement of Halloween – creative costumes, school parties and special sweet treats. But, for those families who have children with special needs, these seasonal festivities can become a source of stress.

A young school aged boy is holding a pumpkin and smiling at the camera. He is wearing a Buzzlight Year costume for Halloween.

At Bancroft’s Preschool & Early Education Program, children ages three to 11 get to practice before the big day.

“I am VERY excited to celebrate this Halloween with the students, staff, and parents!,” says Lisa Scaringelli, Principal at the Bancroft PreSchool & Early Education Program.  “I would suggest parents try on their child’s costume prior to Halloween and consider going to a neighbor’s or family member’s house ringing the doorbell and receiving candy.”

Here are some ways to practice Halloween rituals:

A preschool aged girl and her teacher are dressed up for Halloween. The teacher is wearing a giant pumpkin costume and the girl is dressed as a with in an all black dress.

  1. Show pictures and videos of trick-or-treating
  2. Preview your trick-or-treating route through the neighborhood
  3. Practice social cues such as knocking on the door, saying “Trick or Treat” and the appropriate responses
  4. Dress them in their costume before the big day
  5. Take them through a full dress rehearsal – maybe some neighbors would even be willing to participate!


With enough time to rehearse, prepare and become familiar with popular Halloween rituals, children with special needs can enjoy fun seasonal festivities alongside their peers.

Trunk or treat events are also another popular option to join in on the Halloween festivities.

A car is decorated for a trunk or treat event. The decorations include characters from Dr. Seuss.

“If your child does not like wearing a costume, please do not force them. Consider having them wear items (wings, hats and such) over their regular clothes, notes Scaringelli. “Remember it is all about creating fun memories and experiences that we as a school and family can share. By working together and planning together will ensure a GHOUL time for all!.”

When the big day arrives, students are equipped to fully enjoy the Halloween holiday, indulge in a special treat or two, and even dress up as their favorite characters and heroes. With the right tools, all children can enjoy this special time of year.

Remember to stay positive and enjoy the successes, big and small.


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The #GivingTuesday movement was created to unite us all in a day of generosity, to make a difference in the world through donations to organizations we care about at the start of the holiday season.