Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sensory-friendly costumes

Soren doesn't understand Halloween, though we've talked about it with him and read books about it. We haven't taken him trick-or-treating, assuming that crowds of strange kids and adults in weird costumes and masks roaming his neighborhood would be scary (and come to think of it, it is a strange tradition.) That's not to say that we'd never take him to try this, but right now, it doesn't seem like something he'd enjoy (though that boy does love candy!).

But dressing him up is important to me. It's a way for us to participate in the holiday. It's a mama privilege. So I indulge. I don't think he'd get the idea of most costumes, but if the costume is right, I don't think he minds.

And that's the challenge for me as I consider costumes each year. And I imagine that there are quite a few other parents whose kids have sensory issues that limit costume choices. The costume needs to be right: no hats, makeup, gloves, masks, hoods, glasses, tails, or accessories to hold. It needs to feel like regular clothing to our kids.

Don't bother going to Target for this kind of get-up. Most ready-made costumes feature hoods or masks (and you'll find mostly commercial tie-in costumes, but that's another issue). Luckily, there are loads of ideas online that use sweat suits as a base for costumes. (Just Google "sweat suit Halloween costume.") By using a plain sweat suit and some DIY skills, we can make a costume that feels like cozy clothing.

Here are some of the ideas I've collected:
  • Skeleton: Use a black sweat suit, with white bones painted on, maybe in glow-in-the-dark paint.
  • Superhero: Use any color sweat suit and add an initial with felt or paint. You may want to add cuffs or lightning arrows, too. I used this as an inspiration for Soren's costume last year. 
  • Pumpkin: Use felt or paint to make a jack o'lantern design on an orange sweat suit.
  • Devil: Use a red sweatsuit, maybe with a little tail sewn on. No need for ears, pitchfork, etc.
  • Most animals, especially those that you can identify from their coloring instead of their head or tail detail: Dalmatian, pig, cow, and bee, for example.
  • Clown: Add felt or paint balls or stripes in primary colors to a sweat suit of any color.
  • The sun, moon, or stars: Use a black or blue sweat suit for the moon and stars, and white, yellow, or orange for the sun. Add details with paint or felt.
  • Olympic gymnast or track star: Use a white sweat suit with national colors or stripes.
  • TV or iPad: Add a big white square to a black sweat suit.
  • Sound of Music boys: Use brown or khaki shirt and shorts with painted-on suspenders.
  • Crayons: Use a colored sweat suit and add black cuffs and lettering.
This year I think we'll opt for a giraffe costume: I'll use a brown sweat suit with spots created in reverse with masking tape. There will be no antlers or tail, since Soren wouldn't tolerate those, so I hope the coloring will be obvious enough to identify this as a giraffe costume. I'll post a picture once this is done.

And just for cuteness, here are the past three years of costumes for Soren:

Penguin. When sensory challenges were not an issue.

French sailor. My favorite. The hat came off right away.

Super Soren, in the rain. He was not thrilled that day, but I don't think it was because of the costume.

If you can think of other simple clothes-based costumes, I'd love to hear about them.

3 comments:

  1. For my Son I bought at a craft store a black felt spider web and black sparkly stick on spiders and glued them a red t shirt. He wore a blue long sleeve shirt underneath and blue sweatpants. I had him wear spider gloves and a knit spider man hat siince it was cold. Looking for something new this year he is seven and has outgrown his shirt. He has costume sensory issues and says he can't trick or treat this year :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know this is from last year and you may not see this, but pajamas have been a life saver for us on halloween. They have the characters with the capes on them, (the footed ones) and they look similar to an actual costume!

      Delete
    2. I know this is from last year and you may not see this, but pajamas have been a life saver for us on halloween. They have the characters with the capes on them, (the footed ones) and they look similar to an actual costume!

      Delete

 

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