Halloween on Sensory Overload

Have you ever had a moment where things got overwhelming? Have you ever just wanted to run home, climb in bed, and shut out the world?

Imagine that being the norm! Imagine there being no escape. Imagine everything being scary, and then Halloween rolls around with giant spiders, crazy lights and people in masks everywhere you turn.

My son lives in this world and so my family must learn to cope with this world!

When Enough’s Enough

The first thing we have to recognize is that in our little man, sometimes enough is enough. While we want him to explore the world, push his limits and grow to the point he’ll be able to live normally in society, the reality is the he’s in preschool and he can’t keep up with other kids his age in those noisier, more chaotic situations. So we always go into a situation like a Fall Festival, Truck-or-Treat, etc. with an out for him.

Sometimes that out is simply throwing headphones on him and letting him listen to music, other times it means taking two cars so that either my wife or I can take him home when that moment comes. The specifics of that out depend on a number of factors, but, just like our debit cards, we never leave home without it!


We’ve learned also, that he HATES surprises. A good portion of my morning is preparing him for the day. A good portion of getting ready for bed is preparing him for tomorrow. This has always been something that we’ve fought those who come in and out of our home checking on the foster children for since they sometimes will wait till the last minute to decide to come over or they bring someone he doesn’t know to the visit.

Knowing what’s coming is 90% of his battle. When we can prepare him, he does really well. Throw a curve into the mix and he’ll fall down the rabbit hole of sensory related behavioral issues that might last upto a week!

So when we are getting ready for a Fall Festival, we start letting him know what’s coming days in advance! When we know of a visit coming up, we talk about it starting at least the day before so his little mind is ready for what’s coming.


Believe me, staying home, keeping him away from all the stimuli that I know will set him off, and “protecting” him from it would be easy, but I wouldn’t be helping him prepare for later in life!

We have to expose him to the situations he’s going to face in life. Parties, church, shopping, interaction with other human beings, and even those things we don’t want to talk about and see such as crime, death, and pain. He HAS to see these, he has to learn about them, and he HAS to, with out help, learn to cope with them. I won’t always be here to protect him. I won’t even always be here to guide him. So the time to help him is now, today, while he’s young and it’s easier to learn the tools he needs!

So our Halloween might be short. We might only make one Fall Festival. But we will go, we will have fun, and we will eat WAY to much candy! Even if that means tears, tantrums, and learning experiences along the way.