Halloween tends to be very difficult for many kids with an ASD. There is a ton of sensory overload and lots of changes in routine. Even the slightest change in routine can be upsetting, from decorations in the house, to family members dressing up and looking "different". Loads of sugary snacks and horribly uncomfortable costumes that we stuff their highly sensitive bodies into, can lead to a toxic, Halloween horror meltdown. At our house, costumes have always been the biggest Halloween horror. There are the horrible, surely may suffocate you plastic type costume, or the must be made of porcupine quills fabric type costume. For a kid with an ASD, choosing between sticky, hard plastic or jaggy, scratchy fabric is like asking a vampire to choose between garlic or sunlight as his preferred method of torture. Yes, costumes are surely the garlic for an ASD child on trick or treat.
After I decided to leave Denial in a dark alley with Michael Myers, I took off my own mask and was finally able to see that Ryan did not care as much about trick or treating as his possessed, scary, crazy mother did. I wanted Ryan to be like all the other kids...to wear a costume and just pretend for a couple of hours. Pretend to be a ghost, a fireman, a dinosaur....a neurotypical kid. Autism makes pretending difficult, black and white thinking makes imagining in color next to impossible. Ryan's black and white world and his horror of costumes, made Halloween and my denial of autism,
paralyzing. Begging and pleading with Ryan to behave in a certain way and to pretend to be someone he is not. Asking Ryan to be a doctor when clearly he is a Luigi.
Tonight, on Halloween, Ryan just might trick or treat as Ryan. A boy who is growing comfortable in his own skin and who is learning to be proud of who he is, regardless of what costume others think he should wear. With such a comfortable "costume" I realize there is no point sending Ryan to the Comcast Office trick or treating, since they will find nothing scary about a boy in silk shorts that are two sizes too small and a Hollister tshirt. On the other hand, if the folks at Comcast don't have just the right type of candy, perhaps, a little of the former, scary, terrorizing Ryan will come out and maybe, just maybe, I will get some free horror movies after all....in November....right when all the free, year round Christmas movies cost $4.