Practice night helps children with Autism adjust to trick-or-treating

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Trick-or-treating is happening all around Central Ohio in the coming days, and a unique event is helping children with autism be a part of the annual tradition.

Bridgeway Academy held it’s annual practice trick-or-treat night for children with autism Thursday night.

Amanda Miller took her child Chauncey to the event.

“We get him in the groove first and let him see and get all that noise and environment, the costumes, and all the people around, and get a feell for what he’s going to have coming up here soon,’ said Miller.

Troy Valentine is Chauncey’s father.

“Kind of a bonding atmosphere more than anything else, and seeing the teachers in costumes is always nice too,” said Valentine.

They say each year Chauncey is learning to enjoy it more and more.

“He really seems like he’s picked up where he left off last year. Yeah, last year he was sneaking into the dark room and everything,” said Valentine.

This is a time of year that can be scary for most kids, co-founder Erin Nealy says, especially for those with special needs.

“It’s important for them to have the opportunity to practice skills that we take for granted, that other kids can go and trick or treat on Halloween night without practice. This gives our kids a chance to practice knocking on doors saying trick or treat,” said Nealy.

Teachers and staff dress up in costumes and the kids go from classroom to classroom.  Aside from the fun and games, Miller has advice for parents whose child is newly diagnosed with autism.

“Take a deep breath, it is a lot. The first few months just trying to find out the first step, where do we go from here? Just take a breath because it’s a journey, but everyone is different. But, I can’t imagine him any other way,” said Miller.

Reporter Rob Sneed and photographer Bill Reagan pose with Halloween props at the 2017 Practice Trick-or-Treat night.

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