By Kim Stagliano
Halloween is growing nearer - I can tell because there are more Christmas decorations for sale in the Stop & Shop, a sure sign that Halloween is upon us. As jabberwocky as that sounds - I think that's how much of Halloween feels to our children on the spectrum. It's a day (and evening) full of contradictions, things that aren't what they appear to be, and mixed messages. For instance, how do you explain to your child, to whom you have taught doorway etiquette, the difference of Halloween. Usually, doorway teaching goes like this: "We ring the bell and wait for the door to open. We only ring once. No. Once. No. Not five times in a row. No. It's not a train whistle dear. Just once. Good. Now we wait for the door - no. Just once honey. Good. OK. Now you say, "hello," before you walk into the house. Don't let the screen door sl---. Oof! It's OK. I'm fine (rub head). Good girl."
Then there's Halloween. "We ring the bell. Someone we don't know opens the door. Yes, that's a stranger honey. Right, we ring only one time. Good girl. Well, no. We don't walk into the house. Not on Halloween. We stand on the stoop and say Trick or Treat. Remember how we practiced that, honey? And then they give us candy. I know you can't eat most of the candy. Yes, I take it and replace it with other candy that's GFCF. (In sotto voce, I eat it.) Right. First ring bell. Then take candy. Then walk away"
Don't get me started on costumes. I like every Mom of two toddlers who grew up with Dr. Suess purchased the Thing One and Thing Two costumes for Mia and Gianna when they were 2 and 3. You can imagine how well the scratchy blue wigs went over. It took Gianna 11 years before she'd allow me to put a touch of makeup on her nose to become a doggy. I usually made the girls costumes. Like the year Bella was Leo from Leo the Late Bloomer - with a comfy orange sweat suit and the hideous ghost I tried to make Gianna with yards of tulle draped over a white top. Note to self, you should know how to sew if you are going to attempt to make a costume. Mia has never liked Trick or Treating. She's 17 and I no longer feel the urge to drag her out the door. Poor Bella, who has vision and gross motor issues spent the first 10 years of her life sitting in a wagon as I dragged her from door to door. Three years ago I dumptrucked her off the curb. Yay. Still no Mother Teresa.
How do you handle Halloween in your household? The food, the costumes, the school parties (crossing myself as if to ward off evil) the ever ringing doorbell. On the 31st feel free to ring our doorbell Chez Stag. I'll be handing out candy as always. And my costume will be the typical Autism Mom attire (see photo.)
Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her novel, House of Cards; A Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.