It is that time of year again in the Northern Hemisphere where the temperature cools, the leaves change colors, and Halloween approaches! To help everyone celebrate Halloween, we are providing safety tips, costume ideas, and fun activities that will help you stay safe and have fun.
- For children with seizure disorders, avoid using strobe lights in the trick or treat area or haunted house.
- For children with diabetes or other dietary restrictions, offer sugar-free candies or other non-candy treats such as pretzels.
- In a similar vein, make sure that you have peanut free products for children with peanut allergies. Keep those items in a separate bowl or container to avoid contamination.
- Have your candy distribution area in a spot that children with mobility disabilities can reach without having to walk too far or climb stairs. The end of the walk is always a great area!
- Some children may arrive with service animals. Remember not to pet or distract the animal as they are working animals and not pets.
- If a Trick-or-Treater is Deaf or has auditory disabilities, face them, speak clearly, and smile. Make sure you focus on the child and not the adult interpreting.
- If a Trick-or-Treater is Blind, describe the candies you are giving out so that he or she can choose which one they receive. You can say something similar to “I have M&M’s, pretzels, and sugar-free Jolly Ranchers. Which one would you like?”
Halloween is an exciting time for everyone, but it can also be a scary one, including families with disabilities. Parents for Youth with Disabilities have some great safety tips, along with accommodation tips and tips with what to do with all that candy. Some of their safety tips include:
- When walking in a neighborhood while Trick-or-Treating, keep an eye out for drivers. Look both ways when crossing the street and use the crosswalks and pedestrian walk signals. Also keep an eye out for drivers who ignore traffic laws.
- Use the buddy system, especially when Trick-or-Treating in a group. If your child is not in a group, make sure that they are with an adult you and they trust.
- Make sure that someone in your group is wearing light colored or light reflective clothing.
- In a similar vein, bring and use a flashlight! Not all neighborhoods are well lit.
- Don’t approach houses with the porch light off. This is the international sign of “We are not home” or “We are out of candy”.
- If possible, stay on the sidewalk. Cutting through lawns can cause you or your child to trip and fall. Walking on the sidewalk can help prevent falls and tripping.
For some, the best part of Halloween is the costumes! Over the years, NARIC staff have seen some very innovative costumes for people with disabilities that incorporate each person’s wheelchair, walkers, and other AT devices. Easter Seals has great tips on how you and your child with disabilities can choose a costume. Check out our Pinterest board on Halloween costumes and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation for some great ideas for people of all ages who use wheelchairs.
Some fun Autumn and Halloween activities include throwing parties. Themes include harvest themes, murder mysteries, and Halloween, of course. You can plan activities with a Halloween theme that include making crafts such as spider hats, painting pumpkins, telling ghost stories, or even making gooey green slime (non-edible) and can be adapted for all ages and abilities. If you would like to include snacks, check with your guests to see if they have food allergies or other food restrictions. For example, you can make a Monster Mash (Halloween themed sundae) with sugar-free ingredients for your guests with diabetes. Check out Nursing Home Activities Resource for ideas, directions, and recipes that can be adapted to your guests’ abilities.
Don’t forget to share with us what activities you are planning and what costumes you’ll be wearing this coming Halloween. The NARIC staff wishes all of you a happy and safe Halloween.