No Nightmares on Halloween

Belle and Jim Harbaugh

Halloween was a scary time for our family. It wasn’t the costumes, the decorations or Thriller. It was Sydney, autism and the unknown. We didn’t have many children in our neighborhood. For Halloween we would go to The Zoo Boo at The Detroit Zoo.

The first time wasn’t so bad because Syd was in a stroller. She didn’t mind being in a costume. But when she was five years old going trick or treating was a nightmare.

People would yell at Syd for not saying trick or treat. Seven year old Harrison was attempting to give his definition of autism and still score candy. I fought back tears and we would just go home.

One Halloween Sydney was obsessed when she saw other costumes. She would try to touch children or adults. It didn’t matter. Her OT Karen wrote a great social story for Syd when we moved to Delaware to help her understand that she could not try to touch others in their costumes.

I must admit I tried to bribe Harrison and Sydney. I offered them $25 to spend in Walgreens instead of going trick or treating this year. It had nothing to do with autism. I was exhausted from work. I just wanted to relax at home. Harrison was ready to take the $25 when Syd said “Let’s trick or treat.”

So trick or treating it was. Harrison and Sydney walked ahead of me. I wasn’t a helicopter mom. Syd did a great job waiting her turn, saying trick or treat, saying thank you and Happy Halloween. As I watched them from the sidewalk I was in awe. My children were growing up and making great progress.

No tantrums, no sensory issues and no iPad. We walked for over an hour in our development. In the past, dogs on leashes would have triggered Sydney. But she wasn’t even bothered by the dogs.

We were on our way back to our house. Sydney kept seeing a little girl with a pink wig on. I can’t remember what her costume was. As the little girl and Sydney were waiting for candy. She turned to the girl and said, “Hi, My name is Sydney.” My mouth dropped. I have never seen her initiate a conversation with a peer correctly.

The little girl didn’t respond. I couldn’t help but think. Please don’t let Syd have a flashback and pull that pink wig off the little girl’s head. But she repeated her name again. The little girl still didn’t answer.

I was on my way to move Sydney along when she told the little girl. “I’m trying to make friends, please shake my hand.” At that moment I lost it. Sydney understood the social cue and was giving it a second chance. She responded calmly and appropriately. Next the little girl was prompted to answer Sydney. The smile on her face was priceless. Harrison told Sydney he was so proud of her.

I cried as we walked home. Something that caused us so much pain in the past, was an enjoyable evening for our family. I thanked God for my children and for our progress as a family. When we made it home. Sydney said, “Thank you Mom.”

Words can’t tell you how I felt and how my heart was overjoyed. Trouble doesn’t last always. Remember a change will always come.


A Proud Mom

8 thoughts on “No Nightmares on Halloween

  1. Oh…. wonderful. Sydney will do fine she has wonderful teachers, strong loving mother and a supportive brother.
    Go Sydney Go ….


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