As a parent of two autistic boys, I am always finding ways to work on their skills outside of OT and SLP. This is an easy process in certain situations. And quite difficult in others. One of those slightly difficult times is during the Halloween season. There are so many unknowns around this holiday. Scary decorations, spooky costumes, and people acting unlike themselves. Yet, it is one of the best times for me to encourage my boys to start a conversation with those they meet. Instead of allowing my boys to open their bags for the candy, without saying a word, I encourage them to say Trick or Treat and then Thank you. It helps them build up self-confidence. Which will in turn allow them to advocate for themselves easier in the future. If you have been working on communication skills with your autistic child, you may be ready for the next step. And that next step is visiting one of the autism-friendly Halloween destinations.
Autism-Friendly Halloween Destinations
There are quite a few Halloween destinations all around the world. Some are more popular than others. And that popularity usually means tons of people, which can create an overwhelming experience for some autistic kids.
Depending on your autistic child, you may want to visit any of these Halloween destinations in the weeks prior to the actual holiday. There are fewer crowds three or four weeks in advance. And yet, you still get to see the decor and experience all the action.
You may even want to consider that option if you choose to visit one of the less popular Halloween destinations. After all, the goal is to have an autism-friendly vacation your entire family will love!
My Favorite Autism-Friendly Halloween Destinations
Savannah, Georgia is an amazing autism-friendly destination at any time of the year. It has history, and open spaces, and is known for being haunted.
One of the best things to do in Savannah during the month of October is go on a Noble Bones scavenger hunt. This scavenger hunt takes place at the Wormsloe State Historic Site. The event is held every Saturday during the month of October.
The Savannah Children’s Museum also has plenty of Halloween-themed activities your family will love.
Trick or treating is possible at the Georgia State Railroad Museum and the Oatland Island Wildlife Center. The latter will have you collecting sweet treats from friendly animal characters.
You cannot spend time in Savannah around Halloween and not take a ghost tour. There are numerous ghost tours to choose from. I can help you find one that will be perfect for your autistic family.
Williamsburg is one of the best autism-friendly Halloween destinations if your family is only slightly interested in spooky thrills and chills. Head over to Jamestown Settlement on a Friday night to do a little trick or treating while learning about colonial history.
More trick-or-treating can be accomplished at the Riverwalk Yorktown Market.
I highly recommend this Halloween destination if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of life and get a glimpse of history in Williamsburg.
Additionally, Williamsburg is home to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Each year they host a Halloween Horror Nights type event. If you have a lot more courage than me I highly recommend visiting for this separately ticketed event!
There aren’t too many ghostly experiences down in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Instead, you will discover plenty of places to hike and see the fall foliage.
Some of the best things to do in Chattanooga around Halloween include attending the Mayfield Farm Park Fall Festival, finding everything during the ODDtober scavenger hunt at the Tennessee Aquarium, and eating and dancing your way through Rocktoberfest.
There are a few ghost tours available in Chattanooga. While many of them are for adults, there are a few that are really family-friendly.
Okay, so Disney really knows how to celebrate Halloween with kids. And that includes autistic kids! I recommend purchasing tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. This after-hours event is usually not as crowded since the fun begins in August. This means you won’t spend hours waiting in line for the rides.
Add in the trick-or-treating, themed decor, and specialty foods and drinks and your whole family will easily get into the Halloween spirit.
If you really want to avoid the crowds, head over to Disney Springs early on a weekday. The Halloween photo-ops may be exactly what your family needs when it comes to not getting overwhelmed with thrills.
Oh, and I would stick with Disney during Halloween for your autistic family. Universal Studios’s Halloween Horror Nights is not a very family friendly option!
Salem is one of the Halloween destinations that gets super crowded around Halloween. Thankfully, this Halloween destination allows you to experience many of the events throughout the entire month. So, you can arrive at the beginning of October, avoid the crowds, and still have a spooky time.
Also, Salem might be known for its witches and scary history. But many of the activities there are very family friendly. If your autistic child doesn’t mind walking, I recommend taking one of the kids' tours. A costumed storyteller will lead you through the streets, sharing kid-friendly ghost stories.
If your family has watched Hocus Pocus for family movie night, check out a few of the locations that were featured in the movie.
There is even a Halloween Museum where you can see collectibles from Hallows Eve past.
These are some of my favorite autism-friendly Halloween destinations. There are a few others and we can discuss them if you decide to have me plan your Halloween vacation.
So, if your autistic child is ready to use their skills to conquer spooky Halloween destinations, this may be the year to check out one of my favorites. Talk to your family and see what they think about enhancing their Halloween experience this year. See what they would love to do during this time away from home. Then contact me and see how I can make this an amazing Halloween vacation where your whole family enjoys every minute with as few overwhelming moments as possible.