Updated: Oct 26
By: Molly Crawford
Trick or Treat! Smell my feet! Give me something good to eat! Soon enough children dressed in
costumes will make their way around neighborhoods to collect candy and sugar highs. Everyone should enjoy this holiday without fear of exclusion. Yet, some individuals still don’t feel included due to sensory processing issues and lack of understanding of broad spectrum needs. We are here to help, though! Check out some of our best tips to help make Halloween extra special for all individuals.
1. Treats! Offer candy and non candy items
What would Halloween be without treats? An easy way to make sure that everyone can enjoy Halloween involves providing treats that everyone can enjoy. Allergies are incredibly common among children with and without disabilities. In fact 1 in 13 children suffer from some kind of food allergy (Ameridisability).It’s so easy to add some treats to your candy bucket that aren’t food items. Some ideas include: glow sticks, stickers, pencils, bubbles, mini slinkies, bookmarks, crayons, bouncy balls, etc. In fact, last year I included glow sticks in my Halloween treat bucket for trick or treaters and I’ve never heard so much excitement over a treat in my bucket before.
Want to ensure that trick or treaters know your home offers allergen friendly treats? Check out the Teal Pumpkin Project! By leaving a teal pumpkin on your porch, driveway, etc. individuals will know that you provide allergen friendly treats. You can even add your address to a map for families to view prior to Halloween.
2. “What do you say?”
So often while out trick or treating you can hear a very well meaning person open their door and go “what do you say?” trying to coax trick or treaters into saying something. In instances like these, we can encourage inclusivity by not pushing the matter. There are a multitude of reasons for a
child or individual to not respond to your prompt. Perhaps the excitement of the evening has overwhelmed them, perhaps they have non-verbal autism, or perhaps they are deaf and use sign language to communicate. Regardless of the reason, the purpose of Halloween is to have fun and receive some treats not to have people badger or want to know why someone won’t speak.
Another good tip when looking for verbal responses is time. Everyone processes information at different rates. So please, demonstrate patience and give individuals the time to respond.
3. Costumes: This year, I'm dressing as me.
Have you ever worn something that just rubbed you the wrong way all day or that adorable pair of heels you convince yourself wouldn’t hurt your feet and within an hour your feet start screaming to take them off? In those moments, the feelings of discomfort can cause distraction, impatience, or irritability. For individuals with sensory processing issues, Halloween costumes can present difficulties as they’re frequently made with cheap fabrics. Halloween costumes don’t always meet accessibility standards for individuals with physical disabilities or in wheelchairs, either. With all of
this said, be aware that not all individuals trick or treating will wear costumes. They might just be dressed as themselves and that is beautiful. However, they are still out and want to enjoy the other parts of Halloween.
4. Decorations: Less is More
For our final Halloween Tips and Tricks, we have to mention decorations. While, decorations certainly rely on personal preference and taste, take into consideration certain types of decorations on the outside of your home that some individuals may find triggering or overwhelming. Minimize flashing lights and sound effects or utilize them for a portion of the evening to make trick or treating more inclusive. Overall, when it comes to decorations, less is always more.
We wish you a very happy and inclusive Halloween. If you have any other tips and tricks we’d love to hear them!
Enjoy these resources that helped inform this post, but an array of others to help make Halloween an all around more inclusive holiday.