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A Special Needs-Friendly Halloween

Does Halloween fill you with fear and anxiety—and not because of ghosts and goblins? For many people with a special needs family member, Halloween can be tricky.

From scratchy, uncomfortable costumes to loud spooky soundtracks, to overstimulation and allergy-unfriendly treats, to the difficulties associated with finding a costume for one with physical challenges, Halloween can be a scary, scary thing for many people in our community.

Here is a list of suggestions that you can link to or share with your friends and neighbors that can help make Halloween fun for all kids.

First, watch for major allergens on food labels. Or, have a basket of regular candy and a basket of allergy-friendly candy, and ask trick-or-treaters if they have allergies before handing out the candy. Chances are, the kids know what they can and can’t have—and if not, you can bet their parents are standing close by and can help guide their kids toward a safe choice.

Second, try to keep your entry area well-lit. Kids with physical challenges have enough obstacles without having to worry about tripping in the dark. Or, consider meeting kids at your driveway so that they don’t have to navigate the front walkway and steps with crutches or a wheelchair.

Next, understand that some young ones aren’t comfortable in a costume or mask and might just have a pumpkin sweatshirt on or another simple garment. In addition, they might not be able to say ‘trick or treat’—before scolding little ones about their manners or lack of costume, keep in mind that they might be doing the best they can to enjoy that day like their peers do.

For parties at school or in your home, put the emphasis on games or crafts and take it off of snacks and candy. Kids with extreme food sensitivities will appreciate the opportunity to celebrate with their friends. And all parents will likely appreciate a candy-free hour for their kids!

And, if you are a parent of a child with a disability, remember that you can help set the tone for your child’s enjoyment of the holiday. Volunteer to help run the school party and show the other parents that you can keep it fun while keeping it safe and enjoyable for kids of all abilities!

What about you? Do you have ways of helping your child, sibling, or friends celebrate Halloween?

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