At Holland Bloorview, we recognize that Halloween activities can look different for kids with disabilities or kids who are immunocompromised, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take part in the spooky fun.
Whether you’ll be trick-or-treating, handing out treats, or staying home, we hope these suggestions will help you have a safe and inclusive Halloween.
For the Trick-or-Treaters with Disabilities In Your Neighbourhood
Tip: place a Treat Accessibly sign on your lawn so that trick-or-treaters know your house is accessible. Visit the Treat Accessibility website for details on where to pick up a sign or how to print one out at home.
While it’s polite to say please and thank you, not every child’s language skills are fully developed. Or speaking may not be a child’s focus. He or she may be practicing walking, being social with other children, or focused on increased mobility to do things like grab a treat or ring the doorbell. A little understanding and patience goes a long way.
Some kids with disabilities have allergies, while others are unable to consume food orally. Consider having non-food treats in your basket so all kids can enjoy the holiday. That could be stickers, small toys or something similar. Having options maximizes inclusion on such a big day.
If you decorate your doorway with spooky or loud objects, they might be scary for kids who struggle with sensory input. You can still be festive, but take this into account when you’re decorating your door or front yard. And make sure the location where you hand out treats is well-lit. This helps trick-or-treaters who have vision challenges.
Things to Consider if your Child has a Disability or is Immunocompromised:
If your child is wearing a mask, make it a part of their costume! You can glue pieces of felt or fabric to match the costume, just make sure that the decorations do not cover the nose/mouth area which could potentially restrict your child’s breathing.
Costumes can have elements that make them difficult for kids with disabilities to enjoy. Try to avoid itchy fabric, multiple layers or confusing costumes that are difficult to get on and off. Do a trial run and avoid discovering that it’s uncomfortable or cumbersome on the big day/night.
Kids with disabilities are sometimes more comfortable with a schedule or routine, especially if it’s planned ahead of time. Plan out time to put on costumes and take photos and go over itineraries and routes!
Trick-or- treating may be a brand new activity, some kids might be exposed to things that might scare them, like haunted houses, or scary masks and noises. Go over what they might encounter and practice self-calming skills in case they get frightened. If your child is non-verbal, they can program their communication device to say “Trick or treat!” or maybe create a picture symbol to use as he or she goes door to door.
Planning to celebrate at home?
If you’re not trick-or-treating this year, that doesn’t mean goodies can’t be a part of your spooky season. This year, why not try hiding candy or treats throughout your home (similar to an Easter Egg hunt) for your child to find.
Who said Halloween had to be completely terrifying? Get into the spooky spirit and put on some family-friendly movies for kids of all ages like “Halloweentown,” “Hocus Pocus,” “Hotel Transylvania,” and “Casper.” You can also have a virtual movie night with friends by using ZOOM or apps like Netflix Party.