So, here is my Halloween survival guide for adults with ADHD.
Make plans with checklists
Decorating for Halloween
- Are you planning to decorate your house?
- If so, With what?
- Do you have what you need?
If you don’t have the decorations, you can make a list of those you need and then buy them, or you can choose a store that will have Halloween decorations and wing it. Some of you will have created a diorama of your Halloween scene, and some of you might prefer to go without a plan. If you left decorating to the last minute – and if you have ADHD, it’s likely – just try to get to the store a few days before Halloween.
- Before the end of the first week of October, schedule a trip to buy Halloween decorations. Put it on your calendar. – If needed.
- Do you intend to dress up in costume? If you have children, are they? Decide costumes for you and your family before October 1. If you need to buy one, this gives you lots of time. If you need to make one, it gives you lots of time. If you procrastinate, you will end up getting creative with whatever is around your home.
- A lot of people with ADHD have sensory processing issues. Consider this when you’re choosing costumes. Will it be tight? Itchy? Hard to walk in? An itchy costume might be wearable if you also wear a base layer of pants and a long-sleeved shirt. (Long underwear.) My goal every Halloween (and Purim) is to wear pyjamas or something that feels like pyjamas. Last year I bought a cow onesie at Walmart. That was my costume. Maybe a sports jersey is all you need. And for me, heels? Forget it.
- This goes for everyone giving out candy: Determine how much you’ll need.
- ADHD adults: Don’t wait until the last minute to buy candy unless you’re sure that the stores still have candy. Don’t be that guy.
- Eat the candy. I tell my clients to minimize sugar, but I also believe that on Halloween – and a few days after – you’re welcome to all the sugar in the world. I’d be more withholding with the children.
Taking Kids Trick or Treating
- Plan your route.
- Adults with ADHD- While your taking children trick or treating, pay attention to them and their interactions. That means that when the child(ren) knock on doors, you watch. You don’t pull out your phone to scroll. Keep an eye on all children.
If your child has ADHD (and it’s highly likely if you do)
- Take them on familiar routes
- Make sure that their costume can be seen, in case the child darts across the road.
- Discuss the rules of the road beforehand: Only cross at intersections—no zig-zagging. Stay together.
- Make sure they know the route.
I’m going to assume that you won’t be attending one during pandemic times, but for the sake of evergreen content and for you to return to next year, I’ll include this one.
Halloween parties can be Halloween hell for adults with ADHD.
Many are introverted. Some feel pressure to come up with the perfect costume (just me?). Or maybe you have sensory issues. Here are some of my suggestions, some of which repeat what I wrote above:
- Wear a comfortable costume
- If you’re going to wear uncomfortable footwear, bring a pair of comfortable shoes or slippers.
- You might be more comfortable if you have some friends going. Make a plan.
- Halloween parties can result in sensory overload. Loud music, strobe lights, guests in scary costumes, loud voices, and more. When you arrive, see if you can find a quiet space that you might need later when stimulation gets overwhelming.
- If a lot is going on, and you’re a drinker, consider drinking less alcohol. Alcohol can intensify the experience. Cannabis might intensify the noise, or it can give you the chill you need.
- Set boundaries. You can decline invitations, and you don’t have to stay all night. Be aware of your needs.
Overall, breathe. Go easy on yourself. Don’t feel pressured to do anything for Halloween. If you’re a parent
If you want to skip a Halloween, it’s okay.
Whether you love Halloween or hate it, have a happy one.