Author Cat Bowen holds autistic son in his soft, sensory-friendly Halloween costume.
Courtesy Cat Bowen

7 Last Minute Sensory-Friendly Halloween Costumes For Kids

Having a child with autism always means dealing with specific challenges, but during Halloween, they can be amplified. Autistic children's sensory issues can make things like getting dressed or dealing with noises an obstacle — and by extension, finding sensory-friendly Halloween costumes for kids can be quite the task. The materials are often scratchy, and there are frequently wigs, masks, and makeup that kids with autism have no desire to wear, even if they desperately want to be those characters for Halloween.

There are myriad strategies I've learned while dressing my own autistic son at Halloween. In the first few few years, I thought I had to spend gobs of cash on pricey costumes that were designed specifically with autistic kids in mind. While those costumes were great, and really cute, they were hard on the budget. Now, I've learned that so long as you experiment before the big day, and work with clothing that your children are already comfortable with, you can really put together some fantastic costumes.

Autism is a spectrum. Some children, like my own, are fine with makeup for short periods of time, but will never put on a mask or a wig. Some kids' sensory issues won't even permit makeup. You need to strategize, and try things out long before the big day so that you can gauge what your child can handle. Just like for trick-or-treating itself, your expectations need to fit your reality. I know that my kid has an absolute max number of places he can visit before he has just had it with the whole thing and needs to recharge.



I love what Primary is doing for make-your-own Halloween costumes. They have an entire page dedicated to DIY costumes you can make from their ultra-soft clothing. This Belle dress uses their blue reversible sundress, $24, and their long sleeve Peter Pan collared polo, $18. They've paired it with an easy apron and cute updo. It's not only sensory friendly, it's entirely re-wearable.


Kids' Skeleton Hoodie

Sometimes, you just have to go basic, but you don't want your kids to match every other kid out there, so you need a little pizazz. This does just that. It has everything you need, all in one hoodie, plus places where your kids can hide their hands and face should they feel the need.


A Soft Jedi Robe

It's basically a magic bathrobe and I am here for it. Pair it with the softest of plain pajamas, and you have one heck of a sensory-friendly Jedi on your hands. My son would probably run his hands over the edge all night, but hey, I do that, too in my cozy robe.


Marty McFly

No masks, classic costume, and super cute. It could also be put together with hand-me-downs, Goodwill finds, or stuff your kid already has.



My only caveat with these is that if they are made of the same material as regular scrubs, which they seem to be, you'll need to wash them a few times to soften them up a bit before Halloween. If it's cool, you can easily layer fleece underneath the thin fabric so your little medical professional is cozy.


Lil' Butterfly

This set of wings is feather light and very soft. Pair it with your child's favorite all-black ensemble, and you've got a great costume with minimal interference.


Wendy from 'Peter Pan'

This is the perfect costume for kids who don't like their clothes to touch them very much. If you size up, the neck will be loose, and bam, you've got Wendy from Peter Pan.