Spooky Season is here!
Halloween is a time for imagination, fun, candy, and treats! Trick-or-treating is a very social time, there are many people in costumes, loud sounds, strobe lights, and lots of frights! Many people find this to be exciting, but it can overwhelm children with disabilities. The festivities can cause a sensory overload in children who are on the spectrum or have sensory processing disorder. Children who have a physical disability may have a hard time accessing homes for candy. Halloween can also cause a lot of anxiety for some children. As a community, there are a few things we can do to make a more inclusive Halloween.
- Make sure children are always supervised. If going in a large group, use the buddy system!
- Only cross at the crosswalks and make sure you have the light, there are many more drivers out!
- Never enter anyone’s house, for any reason!
- Approach houses that are decorated and well lit, stay away from houses that have all the lights off. This is usually a sign nobody is home or wants to be bothered.
- Only eat wrapped candy!
- Halloween during COVID-19 is still a risk, wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer, and keep socially distanced from other groups! You can also wear a spooky mask to stay festive and safe!
- If you are giving candy out be mindful- long driveways or many steps can make it harder for children with physical disabilities to access your home.
The biggest question on Halloween is what to dress up as. Answering this question may not be simple for everyone; children who have a sensory processing disorder may have a hard time finding a comfortable costume. This means some children may not have a traditional costume, since many of them can be constricting, too tight, itchy, and unbearable. Costumes made from soft materials make children more comfortable while walking around.
Blue Bucket Project
Blue Buckets for Halloween is a project that was started in 2019. The aim is to bring awareness to challenges that individuals who are on the spectrum might face on Halloween. Some children may be non-verbal, and many times it is perceived as being rude when not saying “trick-or-treat” or “thank you”. Other children may not have a costume on, make eye contact, and they may be scared when approaching homes for candy. Pay attention to anyone with a blue pumpkin and make sure to be inviting and inclusive. The Blue Pumpkin Project helps give independence to children so they can enjoy a Happy Halloween.
Many children have allergy or food restrictions which can make trick-or-treating disheartening. The Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE)’s Teal Pumpkin Project helps ensure that all children are able to go trick or treating. To participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, place a teal colored pumpkin in front of your house. This indicates to families you have non-edible treats to give out. There are many options instead of candy.
- Mini Notebooks
- Glow Sticks
- Key chains
Halloween Night Alternatives
Trick-or-treating can be very overwhelming for some, but that does not mean Halloween cannot be fun! Instead of wearing costumes and trick-or-treating, plan a day filled of fun Halloween related activities. Being outside, breathing in the crisp autumn air is really the best way to spend Halloween.
Pumpkin Picking/Apple Picking- Going pumpkin or apple picking are traditional autumn activities that never get old! Decorating and carving the pumpkins is a fun activity to do when getting home. Playing with the pumpkin seeds can also be a great sensory activity!
Boo-Bucket- Get a cute, spooky bucket and fill it with a bunch of treats and goodies!
Movie Night- Watch a fun Halloween movie, dress up, and have some snacks.