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.