Traditionally, Halloween is traditionally a day where kids can dress up and have fun with their friends collecting candy and trick-or-treating! However, there may be several challenges that come with Halloween for children with disabilities. Here are a few tips to make sure are on your check list so your child enjoys the occasion while staying happy and safe.
Make sure their costumes not only make them happy but accommodate their needs as well. If your child has a wheelchair, cane or crutches you can simply look up costumes that are wheelchair, cane or crutches friendly. Make sure that they can move freely and that there is no fabric or prop limiting their mobility, as children often get so excited during Halloween that they may want to run with their friends or fling around in excitement! If your child has sensory challenges, especially with the touch of fabric on their skin, they may not enjoy the way the fabric of traditional costumes feels. We encourage you to consider using their everyday clothes to make a costume. He or she could be a lumberjack, a pumpkin, a sports fan, cowboy or cowgirl or a farmer!
These costumes can be made from the clothes he or she feels comfortable with and wear often and will eliminate any sensory concerns.
If you do not use their previously owned and worn clothes, make sure you give them time to try on the costume and wear it around your house for a little while to test it out. Another option would be to provide your child with undergarments that are of a comfortable fabric for them. This will prevent the other material from touching their skin directly.
If your child has a dietary restriction, make sure you are proactive by making yummy treats that are safe for your child to consume! Halloween is exciting for children because they get to dress up and earn candy by trick-or-treating. Of course, you want your child to experience the joy that Halloween has to offer, despite an allergy or a dietary restriction, such as a nut allergy or a gluten intolerance. If your child with dietary restrictions is planning on going trick-or-treating with his or her friends, consider making your own treats that will accommodate their needs that you can give to your neighbors for your child. Going door to door in your neighborhood may seem like a lot of upfront work, but the joy that your child will experience getting those treats will be worth the effort. You could also give them their own ‘special treat’ at each house and inform the homeowner that a piece of candy is not necessary. You could tell your child that you are going door to door to show their neighbors their costume, rather than to collect candy. This will allow your child to feel as though he or she is getting the full experience, without missing the candy aspect of trick-or-treating.
Being Safe in the Neighborhood
As always, safety should be a priority. We know that you are dedicated to making sure that your child is safe every day, but Halloween can bring a new set of challenges when it comes to safety. There are often a lot more people around your neighborhood and there may be new stimuli for your child to get distracted by. Make sure your child is wearing some form of reflective clothing so that if he or she can be seen when it is dark and in a crowd. In addition to the reflective piece of clothing, it is best to communicate with your child that holding your hand or staying close to you is the only way to enjoy Halloween. We suggest making it a fun game to see how long they can go holding your hand or telling them the longer they stay close to you, the more fun they will have! Getting creative with the motivation behind safety tricks can be difficult, but it may make it easier for your child to understand.
Knowing When Enough is Enough
Know when they have had enough and when it is time to go home. Keep an eye out for the signs that you know signal he or she is unhappy or ready to go home. For different children, their signals can be vastly different. If your loved one with a developmental disability shows their frustration and over stimulation physically, it is important to recognize those signs early on. Recognizing these signs before they build up into a full-blown episode can help prevent stress on both you and your loved one. Halloween can be very overwhelming and overstimulating, so there is no shame in retiring early and finding something fun to do at home, such as playing a family-friendly game or counting the pieces of ‘treats’ they earned!
Halloween is a fun holiday that gives children memories that will last them a lifetime.
Regardless of whether your child has or doesn’t have a disability, they all deserve to have a fun and safe holiday. We hope you find these tips to be helpful and you have a happy and safe Halloween!