The first Halloween was easy. He was only five months old. We put him in a little lion costume and took him to the office and to the neighbor’s house and home. He had no idea what was going on. A few pictures snapped and he was back at home. Too hard to determine if there was any interest there yet.
The second Halloween, he wore a Mickey Mouse costume and the Daddy ended up carrying him to a few stores at the local mall. He began to cry and we carried him out and home. He was more interested in the little pumpkin used to collect the candy than the candy itself. Hmmm. Well, I thought, he’s not even two years old. That’s okay.
The third Halloween, he chose his costume. Buzz Lightyear had buttons. When you pushed them, they lit up. No question but that he would be Buzz. Then, he came down with pneumonia just a week before Halloween. We hemmed and hawed and decided he shouldn’t miss Halloween. He was recovered and seemingly, well enough. Again, trick-or-treat at the mall ended in tears after a few stores. We decided he still was not well enough, even while pushed trick-or-treating in his stroller. At age 2.5, just recovered from pneumonia, what did we expect? He did show some interest in the candy. Not much though. Never asked for it after Halloween night.
At 3.5, I was beginning to wonder if we would make it through a “normal” Halloween (yeah, yeah – I know!) Again, that year, he chose his costume. A hamburger. Not a Transformer or a pirate or ghost. A hamburger. He’d been watching a cartoon called “Jimmy Neutron”. In one of his favorite episodes (which required repeat after repeat) Jimmy had to wear a hamburger costume as part of a job. My son thought it was funny and wanted to wear the same. He did.
That year, we made it through more stores than ever before. His friend, “B’ though, had long abandoned us for the “big haul”. My kid was too slow and did not want to go through the doorway of any store he had not been to before. But little T actually enjoyed Halloween, and played with his Halloween candy. He dumped it out on the floor and wanted to eat some of it. He looked at it for a couple of days and was over it. This was a successful year.
Then came the diagnosis.
Last year, our only Halloween since he was diagnosed with autism, he chose to be a pumpkin. ABA had just started. There was one practice session of trick-or-treat and Halloween was upon us. Half of our mall had been burned to the ground. We had to go to another outdoor mall nearby. It was quite warm. Hundreds of kids were out. He made it to about 15 stores.
Then, in the middle of a shoe store, he snapped. He stripped off his costume, screaming, yelling and crying and gave up. He looked around the store and then planted himself. The Daddy carried him out to the car and home we went. Again, consistently, he showed very little interest in his candy.
And here we are again. He’s showing even less interest in Halloween this year. When I bring it up, he talks about other things. He seems to be conveying the message that Halloween is a “job” to be done, much like homework. He’s willing to do it with little protest but not for the joy of Halloween. He is willing to do it to please me. It’s funny. He has no interest in going trick-or-treating. He has a costume. He does not have motivation. I’m not sure he will participate this year.
Halloween is for strange tales, right? A kid that does not want to go out and get free candy? There’s the strangest tale of all… and it’s true.
It’s a part of how autism creeps into socialization. Yes, there are crowds and loud noises for everyone. Most kids don’t notice all this because of their focus on dressing up and getting candy.
My son does focus on the crowds and the noise. He is not interested in the candy or the dressing up. He’d rather come home, play with his toys and watch TV. Maybe, he’s got it right…
I’m wishing all of you a Happy and “Interested” Halloween!