Halloween can be a parent’s worst nightmare when attempting to find the right costume for a child with tactile overresponsivity (which occurs when the nervous system experiences touch sensations at a higher, more intense rate than others). Children with tactile hypersensitivities often reject the feeling of unfamiliar touch that comes with many Halloween costumes, such as itchy netting, smooth silk, scratchy wool, bumpy corduroy, or denim with tight elastic bands. Read below for suggestions on how to improve the process of searching for Halloween costumes for these children.
Find the Right Halloween Costume for a Child with Tactile Sensitivities:
- Select a fabric you know the child will tolerate. It may sound obvious, but recognizing your child’s limits is the first step to celebrating a successful Halloween. If the child is extremely set on a specific costume, but you are unsure if your child will be able to tolerate it, make sure to try it on and then adapt as needed. For example, having them wear a tight compression long sleeve shirt underneath for children who are hypersensitive to touch can improve their comfort and independence while wearing the outfit, and keep them warm at the same time! For girls, wearing leggings instead of tights can be a simple fix for girls who are resistive to wearing tights with their outfit.
- Avoid costumes with uncomfortable headwear, face paint, or tight fixtures around the waist and abdomen. This external stimuli can be extremely disorganizing to the child who experiences tactile sensitivities, as light touch receptors are abundant in the area of the head and face. Moreover, the abdomen has additional receptors that respond negatively to external touch.
- Let your child pave the way for success. If your child chooses a special character, modifying the costume by using a themed t-shirt with comfortable, familiar legwear can still allow them the opportunity to dress in festive gear, but will give the child the ability to feel comfortable at the same time.
- Accessorize! If wearing a dress, face paint, or tight fitting outfit is too much for your child, adding in extra accessories to dress up the costume can be fun and festive. Fairy wands, toy pets, or miniature figurines of the character they are representing can be a fun way for others to recognize their costume.
  Kranowitz, C. (2005). How to Tell if Your Child Has a Problem with the Tactile Sense. In The out-of-sync child: Recognizing and coping with sensory processing disorder (Rev. and updated ed.). New York: A Skylight Press Book/A Perigee Book.
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!