Tips for Making Halloween Disability-Positive
Halloween is one of my FAVORITE times of the year!
This year it may look a little different for everyone but it can still
be adapted and inclusive for all of our different kiddos! I really
wanted to include a little something for everyone in this post
including the candy givers who may be visited by some of our friends.
So we’re going to cover candy and the viral post that started a
movement, themed adaptive activities, costumes both sensory, and
mobility adapted and you’ll be introduced to a very special friend of mine whose family has made him the KING of Halloween!
the blue bucket
This trend was started by a mom whose son is autistic. Candy givers were encouraging him to say “trick or treat” before giving him candy not realizing he was non-verbal which caused him to become frustrated. As blue is the color often associated with autism it is now widely recognized as a symbol that the trick or treater may be non-verbal, they may not follow social cues, or they may be an adult who has a mental disability and absolutely loves trick or treating. Seeing a blue bucket is a great social cue that can let others know that a child may behave differently and may need a different approach when trick or treating.
On the reverse side, candy givers can place a teal bucket on their doorstep to indicate that they have non-food items as treats such as glow sticks, or small toys for children who cannot have candy or who may have allergies.
For me Halloween isn’t a one-night thing, I love making the theme of Halloween last the whole month and there are plenty of activities to do as a family at home or with friends to encourage participation and work on some important skills!
Pumpkin dough– This is a great sensory activity with the texture and the scent! Your child can help measure out the ingredients, mix them up, and use a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter to create their own little dough pumpkins.
Pumpkin painting- Get some tiny pumpkins, paint, and some googly eyes so let your little one create their own pumpkin monster! They can use a paintbrush or Q-tip to enhance their tripod grasps or use their finger to paint.
Pumpkin carving- The OG halloween activity BUT adapted for everyone!
Option 1. Let your child draw the face and you be the one to carve it.
Option 2. Using an electric knife and a powerlink adaptor with a switch let your child press the switch to turn the knife on while you carve the face!
Personally, I prefer to get the pumpkin guts out with my hands, and it’s a GREAT sensory task for kiddos who may be a little defensive towards textures! Scooping them out with a spoon is also a great option for children who may have therapy goals geared towards scooping or who need to improve their ability to scoop food.
My favorite part of halloween is picking my costume. I love dressing up and going all out but for some of our kiddos, they may be more difficult for a number of reasons.
Sometimes it’s sensory, the material of the costume, hats, and masks, or just the overstimulation of it not being their “normal”. Preparing your child is key and waiting until the last minute to grab a costume will probably end in disaster. Begin by letting your little one pick out their character, they are more likely to want to wear it if it was their idea, then start your hunt for the outfit so that you have multiple options to compare. Let them try it on, feel the material, and even practice wearing it at home for small amounts of time to work up to wearing it for longer periods. Some other options would be character hoodies or using regular clothing to create a character, “where’s waldo” is a perfect example.
If your child is non-ambulatory finding a costume can seem a little daunting. Making sure it’s comfortable for them to wear in the wheelchair, but also making sure it’s fun and festive, so here’s where we get creative! I am SO excited that Target has released a line of wheelchair adapted accessories for Halloween costumes! Mermaids, construction equipment…the options are AMAZING and I’m sure these could also be attached to gait trainers or walkers as well! And if you want to take it a step further in the creativity department I’ll introduce you to the king of Halloween…
Recently the Ruff family was one of SGF’s gifted families, Porter is their sweet son who I have had the privilege of knowing since I first became a COTA. Porter’s parents make sure he has the BEST Halloween every year coming up with elaborate ideas that incorporate not only his wheelchair into his costume but they participate too by dressing up alongside him. The level these parents go to for their son is truly an inspiration and I could not make a halloween blog without featuring this amazing little guy and his awesome family!