Halloween can be intimidating for any child with sensory or learning challenges: The dark evenings, the scary decorations, lots of strangers calling to the door and gangs of kids on a sugar rush running round the neighbourhood. We’ve put together a few tips that might help to make this season a little less overwhelming for your kids.

1. Expect the unexpected

Loud bangs from fireworks and firecrackers can be terrifying for kids especially ones with auditory sensory issues. Try using ear muffs or ear protectors (available from hardware stores or specialist stockists like www.thinkingtoys.ie), you could customise them in advance with stickers of your child’s favourite characters.

2. Prepare well in advance

Try to help them understand what’s going on; the traditions behind Halloween maybe work with the school to see what kind of activities they’re planning. You could visit a shop where all the decorations are on sale or even try on some costumes if they’ll agree.

3. Make a social story

We like to create social stories explaining what will happen on the night. There are some fantastic free apps available if you want to make stories on your phone or tablet. You’ll find a great selection here: You could even create your own Halloween traditions to suit your family’s circumstances.

4. Practice dressing up

Keep costumes simple, for many kids dressing up may be too much of a challenge and they might be happier with something very simple like a funny hat. Masks can also pose problems. Try on the costumes well in advance, let the kids wear them around the house – see how they feel, walking, sitting or eating in them. Walk the trick-or-treat route in advance, let them know what houses you will be visiting. Try some role-play on the doorstep; maybe even try it in other houses with friends or family.

 5. Trick or Treat is not everyone’s bag

Trick or Treat may not be fun for everyone; if your child does not want to go then maybe they would enjoy handing out the sweet treats to the others who come calling to your house. It’s certainly a great way to practice social skills!

 CDC News and Up-coming Events

The 1st Cork LiFT is due to commence on Monday Nov 17-Dec 5, 2014. It’s very exciting, as we will be helping a wonderful group of kids to make great progress in a short period of time. It will take place in the Radisson Hotel in Little Island, Cork City. There are limited places available so please contact if you are interested in your child attending.

New Editions to our Team

We have some new great additions to our team: Bernie Costello is that friendly, knowledgeable, reassuring voice at the other end of the phone she has taken over from Fidelma as our Parent Support Coordinator. Lorna Walsh is a newly qualified Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) who also liaises with families, creates resource materials and works closely with the therapists in developing the best programmes for children.

Skype Consultations

We are current launching our new International Skype Consultation Service for families living outside of Ireland. Over the years we have seen an increasing international demand for our services and we are really pleased to now be in a position to meet this demand. Contact Laura who is our International Family Support Coordinator for further details. Email: laura@thechilddevelopmentcentre.proactivedigital.ie