Summer is coming to a close and that means Halloween is fast approaching. For those of us with Nonverbal Learning Disorder that’s a mixed blessing. Any time strangers are willing to give me candy is a good time (okay, there was that time with the van…). However, there’s something distinctly unnerving about having kids run up to your door and randomly shouting. So what can you do to minimize your stress during this time?

If you plan on handing out candy, here’s some ideas;

  • Have you or a family member sit on the porch (preferably in costume). This allows you to head off all that random shouting because you’re right there. If you live in a warmer climate, this might be an enjoyable way to spend the evening.
  • Put up a sign. This comes from an elderly neighbour who just didn’t want to deal with “screaming kids”. She made a very large sign and put it in front of the door saying very clearly to not shout and to ring the doorbell instead.
  • Set out bowls of candy to self-serve. This idea works better than you’d think. 99% of people who come to the door are considerate and only take one or two pieces. You may get the one jerk but they are few and far between. After all, no one wants to be the guy who spoils Halloween for others.

If you’re a parent going out with your NLD child;

  • Don’t use masks, use makeup. Masks can obscure vision and create anxiety in someone who already has sensory problems. As well, seeing through the small holes can increase problems with spatial recognition. This is going to be a recipe for disaster.
  • Try on the costume ahead of time. When your child is sensory sensitive, you need to work out the bugs ahead of time. That bit of spandex might not bother you but it might be a slow burn for your child.
  • Walk the neighbourhood ahead of time. Whether it’s you or your child, getting an idea ahead of time of what to expect is a good idea. NLD people lack focus so walk the area in daylight and look around. Is that pumpkin on the porch something you have to watch for? Take a notepad and take notes.
  • Set out rules ahead of time. You and your child need a set of guidelines to work by so you know what to expect. If you have NLD, you may want to tell your child to remain no further than 10 feet from you. If your child has NLD you may want them to return to your side every third house or so.
  • Emergency numbers. If, for some reason, you and your child get separated, it’s a good idea that both of you have cell phones. This may not be a good idea if you have a very young child but any child that can operate a cell phone should have one on them. Make sure they know how to use it (both phoning and texting features) and where the emergency numbers are. If you have a young child, make sure they know their full name (not all kids do) and their parent’s full name. If  you can help them memorize their phone number, that’s all the better.

Lastly, if you’re a home that is handing out candy, please consider having a teal pumpkin and having candy alternatives such as small toys. There are children with medical issues who cannot participate in Halloween because of them. The teal pumpkin lets parents know that your home has candy alternatives. Toys for this purpose are relatively inexpensive at places like the Dollar Store.

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