It's that time of the year again that many children love - Halloween. Dressing up, carving their pumpkins, going trick n treating, parties and most of all the huge amount of sweets they get!!! I must admit I have never allowed my boys to go trick n treating purely because all my friends live too far away & with the world we live in now, its not safe and I get too anxious. But thankfully my boys aren't too fussed and are happy enough with the parties at school and our little house celebration on Halloween night.
But when you have a child with additional needs who is terrified of Halloween you come to dread this time of the year every year, longing it for to be over so that your child can be less anxious and you don't have to worry about going out, and visiting shops.
Roo's very first Halloween was special as he had just learned to sit unaided 3 days beforehand which was a huge milestone considering he was 3 wks from turning 1. We captured that moment on camera with the pumpkin that Daddy carved in front of him.
He was never one for fancy dress so we tended to buy Halloween related t-shirts or pyjamas just to get into the spirit of things.
But the last 2 yrs things have changed as he has gotten older...he no longer likes to see people dressed up, that became evident when we went to Disneyland Paris last Halloween and while he loved all the lit up decorations, pumpkins he took an instant dislike to anyone wearing a costume, any statue that was a skeleton, witch, zombie or whatever. If it moved it was so much worse and totally freaked him out. How does he react you wonder...well let me try and explain....
Imagine something that you are so scared of, imagine having to see it every time you go shopping with your family, imagine seeing it in front of you or next to you. You would be terrified wouldn't you? You maybe get all sweaty, or feel panicked, or unable to move in fear. That's what its like for Roo except he shows it physically as he cannot express verbally and to see how much it affects him is heartbreaking.
Whenever we go to the shops, especially the supermarkets there are always at least one long aisle full of costumes, masks, Halloween decorations that move or make eerie noises. As soon as we enter that aisle he becomes so tense, you can see his body stiffen, his face expression changes to one of uncertainty, his eyes are wide open darting from side to side, he starts to tremble until he can't take it anymore and starts squealing/screaming while his body shakes viciously, his face expression is full of fear and stress. He clings to you as you put your arms around him . No matter how much you try to reassure him he can't take it in. Only way to calm him is to take him out. Now we purposely avoid those aisles but sometimes you can't and its hard so for the weeks running up to Halloween we tend to avoid these places. Anywhere that is decorated in Halloween style. His brothers understand that they cannot dress up in front of him as he will get distressed. So if they have a party we make sure Roo is distracted while we get them dressed up.
Today his big brother had his school Halloween party so we made sure thst the costume was in a plastic bag all the time so he couldn't see it. We were waiting on him coming out of the school party and I had been taking a video of Roo doing something when all of a sudden he froze, the fear rising in his face, I turned round to see why he was scared and saw that Lucas had his outfit still on...Roo freaked out big time in his car seat. ..here is the picture...I find it heartbreaking seeing it as I hate seeing his body shake so much and the distressed look on his face.
So while everyone else celebrates Halloween we will be locking up our doors, every blind and curtain will be drawn, doorbells ignored, we will then shut ourselves into the living room. I will have a small buffet with various sweets Halloween themed for the boys, apple dunking will still be done for older two while Roo will happily splash the water then we will snuggle on the sofa watching a movie while Roo will have his headphones on with his iPad. A nice chilled Halloween away from everything that makes it scary in Roo's world.