Updated: Oct 20, 2018
Part 4 of a Four-Part SPARK Spooktacular Series
In the previous parts of our Four-Part SPARK Spooktacular Series, we talked about how families of children with special needs can prepare for and celebrate Halloween with a little more ease. While families with kids with special needs can do all they can to prepare, the onus should be on everyone to make communities and neighbourhoods more inclusive. If you’re looking for ways to be a better neighbour and friend to families with special needs, here are some easy ideas as to how you can do so!
1. Give It Time
For kids who look to be hesitating, resist the urge to immediately throw a treat in their bag and close the door. Instead, smile and give them a moment - their brain may still be processing what they're trying to say. Or they may be building up the nerve to say what they’d been practicing for weeks before. Halloween night can be busy and fast-paced for everyone, but a little patience can go a long way for a child!
2. Be Responsive
If a child says something that isn't clear, but could be an attempt to say 'trick or treat', be enthusiastic and respond as you would with any other child. It may have been really tough for that child to try to use his or her words, and encouragement would be so reinforcing!
3. Have Non-Food Treats
Have a non-food alternative (e.g. decorative pencils, stickers, small toys) for those with food allergies or sensory issues relating to food. Check out the Teal Pumpkin Project and participate so families know that your home is a safe one to visit!
4. Walk the Walk
Keep a pair of easy to slip on shoes by your front door. If a child is standing away from your front door or down some steps, step outside and gently approach them. They may have mobility issues, or be anxious about going right up to the door. It's a good idea to ask the child if you can come close, though, as to not get into anyone's personal space uninvited.
5. Welcome Everyone
Remember that children without costumes may have sensory challenges, which prevent them from dressing up like most kids. Children that don’t use words to communicate to you may have speech, language, or social difficulties that make simple interactions extra challenging. Kids that appear too old for Trick or Treating may be developmentally more similar to children that are younger than them, making Halloween a perfectly appropriate activity for them that they look forward to year-after-year. Or perhaps this is the first Halloween they’ve actually been able to participate in, after years of missing out due to various challenges. A big smile and a “Happy Halloween!” is sure to make anyone feel more welcome in the Halloween festivities, despite barriers to full participation or judgement from others.
← Part 3