Halloween! Can you help me?

Dear Neighbor:

I am a 4-year-old little boy in your neighborhood and I am really looking forward to Halloween.  We have prepared in many ways for this day. My mommy made me a really cool rocket ship costume.  She used a nice soft hoodie and found some comfortable sweatpants which are materials that I like the feeling of.  I tried some of the other rocket ship costumes from the store, but they felt itchy and scratchy.  It may not be the fanciest costume you see this evening but it was made with a lot of love and care.  One of my favorite costumes Mommy made was my Clifford one.  I wore it for two years in a row!


There are certain things about Halloween I really like.  I really like dressing up and pretending to be a rocket ship and running in the yard.  Running, moving, and playing help me rebalance with all of the things that are going on.  We all take in our environment differently using our senses.  A lot is going on at Halloween for me.  The sounds, lights, smells, textures, motion and gravity are all sending messages to my brain that can sometimes be confusing.  I have to use the toolkit that mommy, daddy, and Miss Anna (my Occupational Therapist) have taught me to assure I am comfortable.  I really want to enjoy Halloween like many other kids do.  We have practiced using strategies so I can enjoy Halloween because my mommy and daddy said it is better to try than to avoid.  Can you help me, please?


You probably have seen us walking the neighborhood with our dog.  We have practiced our route so I know where to go next.  I feel comfortable on our street but if I do not know or recognize you, I may act very shy and reserved.  I will be walking with a group of friends which helps me feel safer and less anxious.  We may have some picture cards to help communicate how we are feeling or what we are thinking.  I will have my sunglasses and headphones with me as well.  I will make sure I do some heavy work and eat a good supper before I head out. 


My mommy and daddy talked with me about the difference between spooky, silly, and scary.  We talked about maybe seeing big flashing lights, machines that have smoke, and loud music and sounds.  We will start trick or treating when it is still light out so I feel more comfortable.  If your house has a lot of scary music or monsters in the yard, I may tell my daddy our safe word and we will go to the next house.  I am working on using my words to tell my family and friends how I feel.  Sometimes it’s hard to explain what is going on inside of me so we have safe word and I use it when I am starting to get anxious.   If you see me go to the next house, please don’t be mad or upset-especially if I do not recognize your house.  My parents talked to me about empathy and how others may feel.  I am glad you really like Halloween and decorate your house.  I am still learning and maybe next year I will be more comfortable to visit your house with the lights or sounds.  I really like lanterns and soft lights.  I may carry one with me.  I have learned to navigate new environments each day and I am still growing.  Maybe we can talk the next time we walk to the park?


I am very excited about all of the possible treats!  Two of my buddies who I will be trick or treating with have allergies.  You probably wouldn't be able to guess who has what unique need.  We painted a pumpkin teal to let people know we have some treats that are not food.  We were going to count how many teal pumpkins we will find.  Did you paint one teal and have safe treats?


I will do my best to say “trick or treat!” and to be polite.  Sometimes mommy and daddy will need to remind me.  We have prepared quite a bit to get ready for Halloween and some of the little things I may forget.  When there is a large bucket in front of me, please be patient with me.  A lot of my friends will know exactly what they want, it may take me a moment find mine.  I have to order things in my head for it to make sense and it sometimes takes a minute.  If I do decide on which piece, I may accidentally grab two.  It won’t be on purpose; I am working on my fine motor with Anna using different tools so I can have a stronger grip.  I may dig a bit to find the right one I like.  I have some favorites like tootsie rolls, gummy bears, or anything else that is chewy.  Please don’t be upset with me if I do not like what you have to offer and politely choose not to take one. I am not trying to be rude. I avoid certain tastes and textures because they don’t feel right in my mouth and just because it is candy, doesn’t change that.


When I am excited I start moving faster and faster with little awareness of where my body is in space. Mommy said I may need to slow down a bit to feel comfortable again and to keep from tripping or bumping into my friends accidentally.  I will be super excited but at a certain point by sensory bucket will be empty for the day.  I may have to go inside a little bit earlier to help me stay on my routine for bedtime. I will need to clean up and get some rest so I am ready for school tomorrow. 


Thanks for reading my letter.  It makes me feel good that you are in our neighborhood and are trying to be flexible, empathetic, and patient with me.  With your help, Halloween is going to be a great experience for me.



Your …