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Sensory Friendly Halloween Costumes for Children with Sensory Sensitivities

If you have a child with sensory sensitivities then you know how important it is to find them sensory friendly Halloween costumes.

Halloween Should Be Scary, Not Scratchy

Both of my girls have always had different levels of sensory sensitivities. In fact, it was the sensory reactions that first alerted us to Ainsley’s sensory processing disorder. Over time, that evolved into a couple of other diagnoses.

But, the sensory processing was a huge factor for many years. It still is, even long after my daughters have outgrown trick or treating. Over a course of several Halloweens we learned a few tricks and we found many sensory friendly Halloween costumes.

When the World is Too Bright or Too Loud

Many children with Autism, ADHD, FASD and Anxiety struggle with sensory overload. Basically, the world can be too bright, too loud, too scratchy and simply too much at times for these children.

So, that presents a challenge to parents trying to support their child while also exposing them to the usual childhood experiences. School can be harsh when the lights are too bright and the noise is too much to handle.

Holidays Can Be Challenging

Family vacations and holidays can be hard to negotiate and can even end in a teary mess. Screaming, withdrawal and fight or flight all come into play when kids are unable to regulate emotions and communicate during a sensory meltdown.

So, how does that impact Halloween, for instance? Well, starting with sensory friendly Halloween costumes can help a lot.

Halloween and Sensory Sensitivities

October 31st is a special day that children look forward to all year. However, if you’re the parent of a child with sensory sensitivities, the idea may conjure feelings of dread.

Will the costume be too scratchy? Will it make him or her sweat? You worry if your child doesn’t wear a costume, he may feel excluded or scrutinized by other parents when they show up at the door. And you worry the night might be too much ending in a meltdown after all the sensory input.

Sensory Friendly Halloween Costumes

Good news. There are easy DIY costumes that can work and tips for sensory friendly Halloween costumes. With a few tweaks and an adjustment of expectations it’s easy enough to make Halloween successful and memorable.

Tips for Halloween Success When SPD is on Board

  • Start with a basic sketch of an idea and the material. The material is vital.
  • When my daughter was small we learned that cotton was the only way to go. This applies to Halloween costumes too. Start with a cotton base and build on it.
  • The layer closest to the skin needs to be soft and not scratchy.
  • Adjust your expectations. If your child can only do 10 houses before they show complete exhaustion, then let that be the end of their night.
  • Why not use what you already have handy? If you have a red cotton shirt and black pants that your child already wears often and it’s the right feel/ material, then you can easily build on that.
  • Consider pyjamas as the base. Whatever works.

Costume Bases

Most costume bases can easily be created with a sweatsuit, or t-shirt, and leggings. Once you choose your base outfit, just a few accessories help create the perfect, sensory-friendly costume. Exact reproduction is not what’s most important; it’s how the costume makes your child feel.

Black and White Bases 

Angel: 

Pair a white base with a white nightgown and a simple lace headband. Angels make easy sensory friendly Halloween costumes.

Nurse/Doctor:

Use a white base with an oversized, button-down white shirt, kept open for a doctor, buttoned up for the nurse. Accessorize either of these sensory friendly Halloween costumes with a toy stethoscope. Simple and effective costume for someone with sensory processing disorder.

Witch 

Pair a black base with a skirt and hat. For a more authentic look, add a straw broom, that is, if you don’t mind carrying it.

Skeleton:

All you need is a little glow-in-the-dark fabric paint on a black base. Paint some spooky bones on the arms and legs. Add ribs in the stomach area. One year my older daughter did this costume super easily and with a whole lot of creativity. Perfect sensory friendly Halloween costume.

Darth Vader:

Start with a black base, by using a man’s black t-shirt. If you have sewing skills, create a cape with ties and sew it on. Hot glue it to the back of the shirt if you can’t sew or don’t have time. If your child tolerates a hat, a black cap with some painted black playing cards glued around the bottom so they flare out like Darth Vader’s helmet is an authentic touch. 

Bat:

Measure from wrist to wrist for wingspan. Cut black fabric to that length and scallop bottom edge. Attach the top edge to each arm of a black shirt. Pair with black pants. So simple. This is one of my favourites because it is so easy.

Minnie/Mickey Mouse:

Pair a white t-shirt with a red skirt, black leggings, and a red bow for Minnie, or red pants for Mickey. Add soft mouse ears and a tail, if your child can tolerate it, for full effect. True story. We had a red Minnie Mouse dress from Disney one year and after a trip we repurposed it and used her Mickey Mouse ears. CUTE.

Black Cat:

Attach ears to a headband or hoodie, tail, and whiskers. If your child wants to be an orange cat, feel free to take the leap. Cats make simple and sensory friendly Halloween costumes.

Homemade Halloween Costumes – Colourful Options for Bases

Devil:

With a red base, you can easily create a devilish costume. Add red horns and forked tail made from felt. You can easily use a favourite pair of your child’s black pants to go with this one.

Jack-O-Lantern:

An orange base can create a super cute jack-o-lantern. Cut out and attach face shapes from felt. For a fancier costume, you might try Halloween-patterned leggings and an orange tutu. If your child doesn’t mind, add an orange cap embellished with a green felt stem and leaves. 

Pikachu:

A yellow base makes it easy to create this cutie. Cut two feather shapes from yellow card stock and color the tips brown. Hot-glue to a hoodie or headband. Create a lightning bolt tail if your child is okay with that. For a more feminine Pikachu, add a tutu. Finish the look with pink cheeks.

Frankenstein:  

Use green turtle-neck and a comfortable jacket and pants, then fringe the sleeves and pants so they look ragged. A simple long-sleeve shirt with patches will work too. Paint two small thread spools gray and glue to sides of the shirt neck for bolts. Finish with green face makeup if your child allows.

Robot:

Pair a gray base with a hat made from a gray-painted box with knobs to make a cute robot. If you’re feeling creative, decorate the shirt to increase the robot effect. 

Lion:

Create an adorable lion from a brown base. Add a mane by cutting a 4-inch wide strip of felt long enough to go around the hoodie. Fringe edges and attach. If you are feeling extra creative, roll the fringe to look like curls and secure.

Cookie:

Using a tan base, add brown felt triangles to the front of the shirt.

Luke Skywalker:

With a tan base, add a white robe, brown sash, and tall brown socks or boots for this look. Have a light sabre around? Then add this to the costume.

Any Color Base 

Clown:  

Affix multi-coloured polka dots randomly. Pair with colourful shoes and a fun hairstyle if your child will oblige. Please note though – if they are scared of clowns and younger in age, then this one is not right for your child.

Crayon:

Write the colour name vertically down the shirt. Create a simple cone hat with 12” x 18” coloured paper. 

Lego:

Find a pool noodle that matches your base and cut rounds of about 2 inches. Glue to the front of the shirt in pairs.

Now that you have the idea, see how many sensory-friendly costumes you can design with just a simple base and a few key accessories. 

Happy Creating!!

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.

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