You may have noticed I’m in favor of empowering the disenfranchised and remembering the forgotten, even for something as trivial as Halloween. I encourage parents of neurodiverse children to tackle the holiday in non-traditional ways.
But guess what?
If your children with autism or sensory processing disorder DON’T WANT to participate in Halloween activities, that’s ok too.
It’s not a requirement of childhood to wear a costume, to ask neighbors and strangers for candy, to take a hayride, or go to a carnival. It’s not. If your kids are making their own fun or even treating Halloween as an ordinary day, then pat yourself on the back for giving them the space to do what they need.
This – allowing them to do their own thing – is usually harder for the parents, who grieve what they feel their family missed. What we tend to grieve are our expectations, not our reality. Allow yourself the grief, especially if this is your first set of holidays post-diagnosis. It is normal and healthy to grieve and there’s no timetable for how it’s done. Let yourself feel it. Don’t squash it. And then… one day… it won’t sting anymore or will sting less sharply. The beauty will be stronger than the grief. Remember, love is stronger than hard.
“You didn’t lose a child to autism. You lost a child because the child you waited for never came into existence. … We need and deserve families who can see us and value us for ourselves, not families whose vision of us is obscured by the ghosts of children who never lived. Grieve if you must, for your own lost dreams. But don’t mourn for us. We are alive. We are real. And we’re here waiting for you.” – Jim Sinclair in Loud Hands.