Trick or treating is a fun thing to do.
Getting dressed up in homemade or shop bought horrific, gruesome outfits. Going out in the spooky, damp, dark night armed with flickering torches. Knocking on doors of little-known neighbours which feels naughty and forbidden. Being given copious amounts of sugar laden sweets and goodies.
What’s not to like?
Quite a lot actually.
For my son with ADHD this was a tricky time of year.
Overload of excitement. Overload of sugar. Late nights beyond his bedtime. All a recipe for a disastrous cocktail of tantrums, tears and explosions.
Mix with that, there were no real friends to enjoy it with.
Whilst other children went around in fiendish, ghoulish gangs, he was stuck with his mum wearing a ridiculous witches hat and cloak being a tad embarrassing. And of course that was heartbreaking and lonely for him.
Hallowe’en, along with birthdays, fireworks, summer picnics, Christmas parties and graduation ceremonies are cruel reminders that are special children just do not fit in to the norm.
As parents we want our children to be happy.
But we live in a society where social acceptance and popularity is a yard stick which some may measure happiness. We want our children to fit in. To get invitations and be in demand.
But this does not happen. It is so difficult for us to see our special children rejected time and time again.
So what can we do to ensure our child’s happiness?
It is up to us to make their lives wonderful, amazing and an adventure. It may not be the life we imagined for them, but we cannot enforce our hopes and aspirations onto their little shoulders. He will feel like he has disappointed you when he fails and is rejected. And you will feel sadder that his life seems so different from his peers.
There are many social groups and clubs that welcome our special children and many places which now have exclusive specified sessions. Choose something he is really interested in and give him opportunity to really excel at something. Sport, music, cubs, brownies, swimming, singing, crafts. My son loved Chicken Shed which is inclusive theatre at its very, very outstanding best.
Jump Nation, Air Space, Rebound is an indoor trampoline centre which have special sessions for our children where music is turned down and there are less participants to avoid overwhelm and confrontations.
Find the one child in his class or group who he has a connection with and encourage that friendship. Be cautious and go slow. Make dates with cousins and family friends who you know will be understanding and tolerant.
As much as possible specifically teach him social skills such as turn-taking. Our special children need to be told exactly what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. You can do this with role-play or recording him with his permission. Watch the footage back together and show him things he’s doing right and things he could change. Play tons of board games so he learns that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.
We need to be giving our special children a massive ghoulish helping hand this Hallowe’en
So, my message is to go out Trick or Treating. Dress up in your wig and cape if you want to. Have fun. Enjoy. But be realistic how he’ll handle it as it may not turn out exactly as planned.