Candy, Costumes, and Trick or Treating – Halloween Tips for Children with Disabilities
Halloween. It is a time that brings excitement for kids everywhere. However, it can also bring challenges for individuals with disabilities and their families.
Candy and treats may bring up concerns due to challenges with swallowing or oral motor difficulties. There may also be a concern due to food allergies and sugar content, potentially affecting your child’s health, mood, or behavior.
Costumes can aggravate sensory issues. They may also require additional thinking and planning to ensure they reflect your child’s interests while meeting their needs.
The act of trick-or-treating itself can enhance anxiety and increase sensory overload. There are flashing lights, scary noises, and many children running around. Your child may be scared to go to houses they don’t know. Or to think about being in the dark with whatever unknown ghosts, goblins, and ghouls may be lurking.
There are some things you can do the help create a fun evening! Here are some ideas!
Set expectations upfront. I let my children know what types of treats they can enjoy and set limits on how many they can have that evening, per day, and so on. There have been times where they have received a lot of things they can’t enjoy. I have taken these items to work to share with co-workers. In return, I provided other options better suited for them.
Another idea is to donate the candy you collect. In my town, there is a local dentist that accepts Halloween candy to send to military troops. Talk about a great way to donate the items your family can’t enjoy while putting a smile on someone’s face! You can find organizations that accept donated Halloween candy by clicking this link.
Keep in mind your child’s comfort while planning their costume. I remember the year my son wanted to be a mailbox. My husband made his dream into a reality, and it turned out to be one of my favorite costumes to date! Looking back, I also believe it was a way for my son to feel protected, an opportunity for him to retreat within the box when things got overwhelming.
It may be a good idea to let your child wear their costume in the weeks leading up to the big night. Make sure it is comfortable and that no alterations are needed. Plus, part of the fun of dressing up is the imaginative play that comes with being your alter ego. Why not spread that fun across several weeks versus just one night?
If your child has adaptive costume needs, incorporate that into the fun! There is a young man in our neighborhood who uses a wheelchair. We are excited every year to see what his costume will be. Our favorite was the year he was the passenger in a hot air balloon! You can find some great costume ideas on this site.
One way to trick-or-treat may be locating a business or organization that sponsors a night devoted to individuals with disabilities. These nights provide an opportunity for fun in a safe and accommodating environment. If you do not have an organization like this in your area, or you prefer additional options, there are other things you can do!
One idea is to find a neighborhood that doesn’t receive a lot of trick-or-treaters. You can have the experience of trick-or-treating but in a quieter and calmer environment. Speaking from experience, those houses that do not receive a lot of beggars on Halloween appreciate the extra company!
Another idea you could try is to trick-or-treat at your house. Invite family and friends over to pass out candy and treats in your home. Your child can go from room to room, collecting goodies from those they trust and love most.
With some planning, adjustments, and a positive attitude, Halloween can be a fun time for all!