I am really looking forward to Halloween. We have prepared in many ways for this day. My mommy made me a really cool rocket ship costume. She used a nice soft hoodie and found some comfortable sweatpants from materials that I like the feeling of. I tried some of the other rocket ship costumes from the store, but they felt itchy and scratchy. It may not be the fanciest costume you see this evening, but it was made with a lot of love and care.
There are certain things about Halloween I really like. I love dressing up, pretending to be a rocket ship and flying around the yard. Running, moving, and playing help me rebalance while so many things are going on. The sounds, lights, smells, textures, motion and gravity are all sending messages to my brain that can sometimes be confusing. I try to use the toolkit that mommy, daddy, and Miss Anna (my Occupational Therapist) have taught me, because I really want to enjoy Halloween like other kids do. Can you help me, please?
You probably have seen us walking the neighborhood with our dog. We have practiced our route, so I know where to go next. I feel comfortable on our street but if I do not know or recognize you, I may act very shy and reserved. I will be walking with a group of friends which helps me feel safer and less anxious. We may have some picture cards to help communicate how we are feeling or what we are thinking. I will have my sunglasses and headphones with me as well. I will make sure I do some heavy work and eat a good supper before I head out.
My mommy and daddy talked with me about the difference between spooky, silly, and scary. We talked about maybe seeing big flashing lights, machines that have smoke, and loud music and sounds. We will start trick or treating when it is still light out so I feel more comfortable. If your house has a lot of scary music or monsters in the yard, I may tell my daddy our safe word and we will go to the next house. Sometimes it’s hard to explain what’s going on inside of me, but I am working on using my words to tell my family and friends how I feel. If you see me go to the next house, please don’t be mad or upset, especially if I do not recognize your house. My parents talked to me about empathy and how others may feel. I am glad you really like Halloween and decorate your house. I am still learning and maybe next year I will be more comfortable when a house has lights or sounds. I really like lanterns and soft lights. Maybe we can talk the next time we walk to the park during the day?
I am very excited about all of the possible treats! Two of my buddies who I will be trick-or-treating with have allergies. You probably wouldn’t be able to guess who has what unique need. We painted a pumpkin teal to let people know we have some treats that are not food. We were going to count how many teal pumpkins we will find. Did you paint one teal and have safe treats?
I will do my best to say “Trick or Treat!” and to be polite. When there is a large bucket, with lots of choices in front of me, please be patient with me. I have to organize things in my head before I can decide, and it sometimes takes a minute. Once I choose a piece of candy, I may accidentally grab two. It won’t be on purpose; I am working on my fine motor with Anna. We are using different tools and games, so I can have a stronger grip. I may dig a bit to find the right one I like. I have some favorites like tootsie rolls, gummy bears, or anything else that is chewy. Please don’t be upset with me if I do not like what you have to offer and choose not to take one. I am not trying to be rude. I avoid certain tastes and textures because they don’t feel right in my mouth.
When I am excited I start moving faster and faster with little awareness of where my body is in space. Mommy said I may need to slow down a bit to feel comfortable again and to keep from tripping or bumping into my friends accidentally. I will be super excited, but at a certain point by sensory bucket will be empty for the day. I may have to go inside a little bit earlier to help me stay on my routine for bedtime. Then I will clean up and get some rest, so I am ready for school tomorrow.
Thanks for reading my letter. It makes me feel good that you are in our neighborhood and are trying to be flexible, empathetic, and patient with me. With your help, Halloween is going to be so much fun! See you soon.
Love, The Little Rocket Man from Down the Road
For more information about Sensory Processing Disorders and family-friendly sensory based activities throughout Cleveland, visit Courage to Connect CLE.