Halloween and Your Child with Special Needs

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Trick-or-treating when you have a child with a disability can be, well, tricky. Here are some ideas to help your family enjoy a spooktacular event, like our inclusive Halloween events at CTN.

Halloween is a great way to get out in the community and meet your neighbours. And while a holiday that involves dressing up and getting candy is a dream come true for many children, it can pose some challenges for children with sensory issues, physical challenges, restricted diets or other special needs.

Join us for the CTN inclusive Halloween parties across Simcoe County and York Region. Visit our calendar and RSVP for an event in your community.

Here are some ideas to help make your Halloween safe and fun for kids of all abilities:

Prepare your child:

  • Map out a route.

  • Use social stories or videos of children trick-or-treating to help your child know what to expect. Or try a practice day of trick-or-treating. Be honest about some of the challenges they might face.

  • Flashlights can go a long way in making children feel comfortable in the dark.

  • If your child has physical limitations that make walking or stairs a challenge come up with a backup plan on how they can participate. This could include Halloween with a buddy who can help them participate.

  • Consider making yourself the candy manager. This can work especially well for children who are on restricted diets.

Prepare your neighbours:

  • If you have a friendly relationship with your neighbours consider a pre-Halloween stop by to explain your child ís specific needs and how they can help make the event more inclusive. It could be as simple as having them walk down steps to give out candy.

  • If you don't know your neighbours but feel comfortable communicating in writing consider writing a short note explaining your situation and how they can help your child participate in the holiday. Here ís a short example that you can customize for your needs:

Hi neighbour,
We live up the street and have a daughter who uses a wheelchair. She can't get up any of the front steps. If you are participating in Halloween and see us trick-or-treating, would you mind walking down the steps to give my daughter candy? If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at 123-456-789.
Thanks, Sally

Be flexible:

  • Remember that your child might get tired easily, be frightened or overstimulated. Be prepared to respond as needed, and perhaps even cut the night short.

  • Costumes can be a challenge for any child. Heavy make-up or itchy tags might be tough for a kid with sensory issues. You can try costume t-shirts or have kids practice wearing their costume before the big day.

  • For kids with mobility challenges there are some fantastic adapted costume ideas here on this Pinterest board.

Be inclusive:

  • Be sure to make your home and Halloween giveaways as inclusive as possible. Mini PlayDoh canisters or bubbles make great giveaways, especially for kids who have restricted diets. You can even participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, an initiative that strives to make Halloween inclusive for all trick-or-treaters. For a list of non-edible treats, click here.

  • If going out and trick-or-treating is just too much for your child, consider hosting a Halloween trick-or-treat party to make the holiday more enjoyable for your family.

Don't forget that CTN hosts several inclusive Halloween parties in various locations. Click here for a full list of events.