Halloween is just around the corner! It is one of the most exciting holidays of the year in most homes. It is a magical time of excitement, imagination, and lots (and LOTS!) of sugar. Like many celebrations it brings new experiences, sights and sounds that can quickly make it overwhelming for some.
Over the years we have learned many ways to make Halloween more accessible so that any child who wants to join in can participate and enjoy themselves. Read on for some great tips for both home and community.
Halloween at Home:
Some children love to scrape the pulp out of pumpkins, but a child who has sensory issues may find it completely overwhelming and intense. If it is too daunting a task, try painting pumpkins with finger or craft paint. Make sure you clean and dry your pumpkin well before you paint! Consider dressing your pumpkins with old Halloween costumes. Dig into the dress-up box and let the kids go wild. No carving required!
Dressing up is supposed to be fun, but costumes can be challenging for children with special needs. Scratchy fabrics, tickly stuff like feathers, and strong or strange smells from plastic and paints may not work. Masks and head pieces can feel constricting. Consider accommodating sensory needs with costumes made out of regular clothing. Hooded sweatshirts can be transformed into dinosaurs, monkeys, birds, monsters, Minions and more with a little bit of felt, glue and ingenuity! Check out this link for more ideas.
Children with limited mobility need costumes that don’t interfere with their crutches, walkers or chairs. Some parents have made wheelchairs the centrepiece of a Halloween costume- for some inspiration take a look here.
For families with severe food allergies or those on special diets, it may not seem like the best holiday of the year. Looking for teal pumpkins may help but not every house is going to be aware of food allergies. Have you heard of the Switch Witch? Children are asked to leave the candy they cannot eat on Halloween night, and while they are sleeping, the Switch Witch replaces the candy with a special toy or treat. Some families use a Trading Post idea that allows children to trade what they cannot eat for treats that are safe.
Halloween in the Community:
There are many things that people within our community can do to help make Halloween accessible. It is not easy to ask our neighbours to make accommodations for our kids. But it isn’t easy for our neighbours to ask us what they can do to make it more inclusive.
Consider joining The Teal Pumpkin Project . Some children are severely allergic to foods such as milk, soy, nuts and wheat. Halloween can be not only scary, but a major bummer if you know you can’t eat the goodies. Pick up a few inexpensive non-food treats like glow bracelets, bubbles or crayons from your local dollar store and put a teal pumpkin (or sign) on your step to let trick or treaters know your house is food allergy aware!
More often than not the average house is not mobility friendly. Stairs and narrow sidewalks are difficult to maneuver with wheelchairs, walkers and costumes. Passing out treats from ground level instead of high atop your porch may be simple solution for both children with mobility differences and the littlest ghosts and goblins in your neighbourhood.
However you decide to celebrate Halloween, please make sure you keep safety in mind.