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How to Make a Halloween Costume for a Child with Sensory Integration Dysfunction


Children with sensory integration problems are notoriously picky about clothing. They may need soft fabrics, tag-free shirts, non-binding wastebands, nothing scratchy or tickly. So standard, store-bought Halloween costumes, with their flimsy fabrics and mismatched parts and unfinished hems and inexact fit are pretty much of a no-go. Here's a quick way to make your child a costume out of a pair of nice, comfy sweats. Make them as simple or spectacular as your craft abilities allow.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Depends on how crafty you are

Here's How:

  1. Start with a hooded sweatshirt: brown for a dog, black for a cat, red for a devil. Your child can pair this with matching sweatpants, or any other legwear he or she feels comfortable in.
  2. Decorate the sweatshirt using felt or construction paper. Cut out contrasting spots for the dog, a white tummy for the cat, maybe some orange flames or a pitchfork for the devil. Attach these to the costume depending on whether you want to use the sweatshirt again: with staples, tape, safety pins, fabric glue, stitches. You can even use fabric paint if you want the costume to live forever.
  3. Decorate the hood with felt or construction paper. Make little ears for the cat, floppy ears for the dog, horns for the devil. Attach them as indicated in Step 2.
  4. Attach a tail to the seat of the pants. Cut out a black tail from felt or construction paper for the cat, a brown one for the dog, a red one for the devil. Attach it as indicated in Step 2.
  5. Put the costume on your child. If he or she will tolerate it, add a felt or construction paper collar to the dog or cat. Let your devil hold a pitchfork. Face makeup is also a possibility if your child doesn't mind it.
  6. Now take a picture! If the costume reverts back to its normal sweatshirt state after Halloween night, you'll want to have a record it existed.


  1. The material you use for the add-ons and the way you fasten them can be determined by how active your child will be in the outfit. If it's just for a quick round of trick or treating, you can probably get away with paper and staples. If it's for a party or a day at school, felt and glue might be a better bet.
  2. If your child finds a weighted vest helpful, he or she can wear it under the sweatshirt, or load up the pockets of the sweatshirt with curtain weights and sew them shut.
  3. If your child prefers tight clothing, have him or her wear a tight shirt under the sweatshirt. Any favorite piece of comfort clothing can likely ride under there; determine sweatshirt size accordingly.

What You Need

  • Hooded sweatshirt
  • Matching sweatpants (optional)
  • Felt or construction paper
  • Fabric paint (optional)
  • Staples, tape, safety pins, glue, and/or needle and thread
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