Friday, October 24, 2014

Be sensitive to special needs on Halloween

Last year I came across this Facebook post about trick or treating from a fellow Occupational Therapist. I reposted it and got a great response, not only from parents of kids with special needs but also those who hadn't thought about how a child with special needs may be processing this event. It's a good reminder that not every costumed child is the same under the costume.

Here is that same post:
Tonight, a lot of little creatures will visit your door. Be open minded. The child that is grabbing more than one piece of candy might have poor fine motor skills. The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy might have a difficult time with motor planning issues. The child who does not say "trick or treat" or "thank you" might be painfully shy or non-verbal. If you cannot understand their words, they may struggle with developmental apraxia of speech. They are thankful in their hearts and minds. The child who looks disappointed when he sees your bowl might have a life threatening food allergy. The child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have a sensory processing disorder or autism. Be Kind. Be patient. Smile. It’s Everyone’s Halloween.

Heather H. has posted great information regarding Food Allergy awareness (painting your pumpkins teal to indicate non-food treats) and articles about preparing a child with sensory needs for Halloween in the past few weeks. Here are a few more ideas on how to be sensitive to special needs on Halloween!

  • If you have steps or hard a hard to manage driveway, meet the kids at the sidewalk (this is of course dependent on the weather. Growing up in CO, it was always snowy, so the adults definitely stayed inside)
  • No flashing strobe lights, kids with seizure disorders will not be able to come to your house.
  • If you dress up, have your face visible, better yet, dress as the latest kids movie character to answer the door. Kids of all abilities will love being greeted by Elsa ;)
  • Don't expect every kids to say "trick or treat"(see above).
  • Volunteer at the local "trunk or treat", these are typically held in parking lots of schools or churches. Flat surfaces, day time hours and close proximity makes it super easy and accessible for kids of all abilities.
  • Be aware of having your dog answer the door with you, lots of kids are afraid of dogs!
  • Offer non-food items as treats (my favorite store, The Dollar Tree, offers packs of holiday themed pencils and erasers for $1. No need to skip candy all together, just have a few on hand for those with allergies)
These are just a few ideas on how to be accommodate kids with differing needs. Remember to still have fun and enjoy your holiday!


Shelly is super excited for the corn maze and pumpkin patch this weekend with her furbaby!

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