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The Nightmare Before — and During — Halloween

As a mother of three children — including a daughter who has severe autism — I understand all too well about the challenges holidays bring, including Halloween. The following tips represent the lessons I’ve learned over the last several frightful seasons; I hope you can put them to good use with your family this Halloween.1. SAFETY: Not all kids are comfortable with the dark — especially walking around at night.

Use flashlights, glow sticks, and light-up sneakers to make it more fun and safe. Before you go, snap a picture of your child in his or her costume with your cell phone so you have the most up-to-date picture — in case your child wanders off. And don’t forget, there’s safety in numbers.

Try to trick-or-treat with another family to have an extra set of eyes, ears, and hands to help out.2. STRATEGY: Many kids do better when they have a routine and know what to expect. Plan the route you will walk ahead of time, talk about which neighbors and houses you will visit, and practice walking the route a day or two before October 31.

Also, create a back-up plan to stop or address an emergency tantrum should something unexpected arise. If your child doesn’t have a lot of stamina for walking or gets easily overwhelmed, limit the number of houses you visit while it’s still fun — and before you get to the exhaustion stage.3. SOCIAL SKILLS: The first few years I took her trick or treating, my daughter would just waltz into our neighbors’ homes after ringing their doorbell and stuff her cute face with candy.

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