Halloween isn’t easy for some children, especially those with special needs. Parent Network of WNY has some helpful tips for parents so all children might enjoy a more inclusive Halloween.
“Inclusion is important so that all people can feel welcome and participate equally in common-place events with their peers. The feeling of acceptance is beneficial to the self-esteem and self-image of children. A sense of belonging is important in the development appropriate social skill and healthy relationships,” said Debbie Schutt, Family Support Specialist and Behavior Intervention Coordinator at Parent Network of WNY.
All parents should keep the following in mind this Halloween:
Choosing a costume:
If you are taking your child trick or treating, selecting the right costume for your child will be an important factor. Make sure your child is easily visible in the dark and their vision isn’t obstructed with their mask or costume on. Also, ensure your child will not trip over their costume. Children with sensory difficulties may need a custom costume that does not distract them or make them feel uncomfortable.
Decorations can be (too) scary:
During this holiday season, keep in mind children may have sensory difficulties. When it comes to decorations, try to limit sensory triggers such as fog machines, strobe lights, and loud sound effects. Parents can give their child flashlights and earplugs to help with sensory issues while trick or treating.
Keep all children’s needs in mind:
If you are participating in giving out candy, bring your bowl down to street level and hand out your treats in a well-lit area. Try to make sure trick or treaters can see your face and mouth as you speak. Some kids may not be in a costume or be able to say “Happy Halloween” or “Trick or treat” or “Thank you” so be respectful and patient. Some disabilities are “invisible” so also try to be non-judgmental.
A Teal Pumpkin?
The Teal Pumpkin Project features a teal-colored pumpkin on display at a home and is designed to indicate to families that the household is aware and prepared for children and teens who may be dealing with food allergy restrictions.
You can register to be apart of the Teal Pumpkin Project as well as find more information including specific instructions for the upcoming holiday and allergy-friendly routes in your city or town by visiting www.foodalergy.org.
Try the buddy system:
Doing a test run and getting your kid familiar with the trick or treat route you will be taking will enhance Halloween safety as well as participating in a buddy system and avoiding crowded areas.