Navigating a Halloween party with autism
Updated: Nov 4
COVID-19 vaccination certificates have meant a more normal life for many, including Halloween parties. Okay, so you have autism, and you got invited to a Halloween bash. You want to go. What now? How do I handle potential obstacles that might come my way?
With tactile sensitivities, it may be wise to go through old costumes in your closet or try some on at the nearest costume store. This way, you don't spend the night wearing an uncomfortable costume.
Also, if you want a fun social night, it would be a good idea to pick a costume that stands out or will likely get lots of compliments. You can choose or come up with something humorous even, just as long as it doesn't cross any lines.
In addition, according to Blurredlinesofracism, cultural appropriation is a real thing that one needs to take seriously. Sometimes, people with autism may not understand social rules right away. Therefore, it will be important to educate yourself on a costume's origins.
Rules to social situations apply everywhere, including Halloween parties. If a few people are deep in a conversation and you notice one of them is wearing a nice standout costume, don't scream, "Sick costume!" or anything similar out of nowhere while they're talking. Instead, approach these people first, or even let them come to you, say hi, and compliment their costume. However, if the person is alone and not talking to anyone, the sudden "Sick costume!" comment would be okay just as long as it's obvious by their emotion that they do not want to be left alone.
If you struggle to come up with something to talk about with someone because you may not have much in common, you can always comment on the food, decorations, costumes, and music. Maybe the current song playing is something you've never heard before, but you want to know the name and artist. The person you're talking to might have that information.
Also, remember to thank the owners and say goodbye to each person you interacted positively with before you leave the party.
Feelings of isolation
Through my experience with parties and large social gatherings, I've always found that people will more likely give me positive attention if I stand out from the crowd in a good way, even when I struggle socially. For example, at work Christmas parties, if I've tried to dance like crazy or come up with unique, creative moves, people were more likely to notice what a good time I'm having and will more likely want to talk to me. Halloween parties often have lots of music and dancing, as well. However, when sitting at the dinner table, people wouldn't talk to me as much because I didn't have much to share with them.
Also, if you notice that there are many people with significant others and you don't have one, or if it seems like many people have known each other for so long, I've found that it helps if I go up to them introduce myself and ask people how they know each other. Most of the time, the responses have been positive with me in such settings, and it has helped me feel like I'm in the in-crowd a little more.
Because people with autism can be sensitive to loud noises or have difficulties processing noise, it may not be uncommon for these people to leave early or want a break to wind down. I know I've been like this at some past parties.
If the sensory overload is getting too much, but at the same time, you're having enough fun that you don't want to leave early, you can ask the party owner if there is a room you will be allowed to go in to cool off. If these people are worth associating with, they will be understanding. Just remember, do not go through private stuff these people may have in these rooms.
If you plan to leave early and struggle with the overload, be frank with the owners but don't be insulting or negative. It would be best if you said something like, "I've been having some issues processing the noise, and I'm a little tired. I will leave early for the night. It was a fantastic party, though. I'm glad you invited me!" Leaving without a word would be rude unless if everyone there was bullying you.
You should have a fantastic night with friends. Wear a good costume, have plans for interacting with people, think about what you will do if you want to leave early or later, and you will be fine.
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