I used to dread Halloween. Children coming to the door in costumes and masks would terrify and upset the boys. The prospect of taking them out trick or treating seemed infinitely worse.
Two years ago I decided I wanted to try and make it work. I bought costumes for the boys that I knew they would be comfortable in and they practiced wearing them for a few weeks beforehand. I got some books about Halloween and we would sing songs like “The Wheels on the Ghost Bus”. I wrote a short letter to my neighbours explaining how difficult Halloween was for the boys and that I would like to do a practice run. Nine of the houses on our street signed up and I left them with cookies to give to the boys. We practiced trick or treating a couple of days before the main event and it went well – by the end of the session the boys had got the hang of it. The night of October 31st there was a slight hitch – Grandma arrived with french fries for Owen so he filled up on them and had no interest whatsoever in going out for cookies. He played along with us though and overall I count it as a success.
Last year the weather was horrible and we decided to stay in and hand out candy, but this year Oliver started to get excited about Halloween a couple of weeks ago. He loves chocolate and candy and had heard about this magical thing called ‘trick or treat’ which resulted in you being given buckets of the stuff. The past few days he’s been extremely hyped up at the prospect of trick or treating – staying in was not going to be an option.
So I again got the boys easy to wear costumes – a wizard cape and hat for Owen and a dragon cape with tail and hood for Oliver. He’s not really very excited about dragons so I sold it to him as a dinosaur costume. Lots of ‘ROARing’ ensued. We practiced the routine – holding up his bag, saying ‘trick or treat’, putting candy in his bag, saying ‘thank you’ then ‘Happy Halloween’. Oliver was all set.
Owen wasn’t ecstatic with his costume at first but he got used to the cape after a couple of times wearing it and as long as he was allowed to put his hat on himself he was fine. Now, how to prepare him for trick or treating…? Well, first we took some pictures:
With the pictures, I put together a task list for his iPod Touch using the First Then Visual Schedule app from Good Karma Apps. I called the schedule “Trick or Treat” and made it as simple as possible. Just three steps: Trick or Treat, Thank You and Cookie. We practiced with it for a while and although I realized Owen had quickly caught on to what he had to do in order to get a cookie (hold his bag open and tap the first picture, tap the second picture when he received something and then tap on the third picture as he got a piece of cookie) – he was also tap-happy with the home button and having a look at what else he could find on his iPod Touch.
I decided to *gulp* upgrade to iOS 6 so I could use the Guided Access features to keep him in the First Then Visual Schedule app.
The upgrade didn’t take long and I also worked out how to use the Guided Access feature surprisingly swiftly. I was a little worried that Owen might be cheesed off at not being able to exit the app but as he only uses his iPod Touch for communication anyway, he wasn’t bothered. Plus, when he did the right things he got a cookie. Sweet!
Owen had on his Gab n Go from Safe n Sound Mobile – the advantage of this is that his iPod Touch is right there in front of him whenever he needs it and it won’t get lost or dropped. He has a Griffin Survivor case on his iDevice (particularly welcome this evening as it was raining) and it works nicely with the Gab n Go.
Here’s the schedule I put together for him for trick or treat. As you can see, it’s pretty straightforward and he picked it up right away:
Here he is, practising feverishly before we go out:
We went out and even though it was raining, both boys had fun. My pockets were stuffed with cookies so Owen was happy as a clam with trick or treating and he still collected candy – for his brother. Oliver was very appreciative – munching on a Caramilk when we got home he announced, “Mmmmm, that is some delicious candy.”
It turned out to be a delicious Halloween for all of us this year.