Planning a Safer Halloween for Children with Special Needs

Halloween is just around the corner and is an exciting time for many kids. They get to dress up as their favorite characters, go trick-or-treating with family and friends, and see all of the houses decorated. Plus, they may get to attend some Halloween parties or other festivities. But when your child has special needs, there is often more planning and consideration involved with celebrating this eventful holiday. It’s not as easy as just grabbing a costume and heading out the door.

Finding the right costume: Make sure your child’s costume is comfortable (especially if they have sensory issues) and does not restrict movement. You want to ensure that they can walk properly or nothing gets caught in their wheelchair. Consider using face paint instead of masks so that nothing is obstructing their vision or breathing. You may also be able to adapt any head wear so that is easier for your child to see and stays in place.

Know where to go: Have set route to take while trick-or-treating. Make sure that there are sidewalks available for safety and the path is easy for your kids to navigate. Add reflective tape to costumes or give your kids glow sticks to wear so they’re more easily visible in the dark. Having flashlights on hand is also a good idea.

Prepare in advance: Talk to your child about what happens during trick-or-treating or a party. Discuss how they can respond to different situations and what to do if they feel anxious or uncomfortable. Practice saying “trick or treat” and “thank you” and only taking one or two pieces of candy. Also remind them to stay on the walkway or porch.

Buddy up: If you’re traveling in a group, assign each person a buddy so they have someone to stick with. Even though you’ll be accompanying your child, letting them walk up to the door with a friend can give them more confidence and independence while still providing support.

Join in the Teal Pumpkin Project: If you’re passing out candy at your own home, consider being part of the Teal Pumpkin Project and offering non-food treats for children who may have food allergies, are tube-fed, or have other challenges. This way they can participate in the festivities but have something fun and safe just for them instead of candy. You could get stickers, pencils, small activity kits or toys, or other fun treasures.

Being proactive can help you and your child to make the most of Halloween and allow them to participate as much as possible. They can also practice the skills they have been working on at PediaPlex as they interact with others and engage in new situations. PediaPlex offers a wide range of therapies for children with autism, developmental delays, issues with speech or socialization, and other challenges.

Leave a comment and let us know some other ways you prepare for Halloween!

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