Halloween is a holiday that so many look forward to but for children with mental and physical disabilities, it can leave them feeling afraid and excluded. With a little extra holiday planning, Autism Advocate Christina Van Ditto Warter says you can create a fun and inclusive Halloween for all.
Accessibility, choices and lighting are three ways that everyone can help make the spooky night a lot easier for all, she says. And if you’re handing out candy, having a few non-candy items can make a big difference in someone’s experience too.
“Having a variety of items to hand out and offering that choice is great because there are individuals who have food sensitives and food aversions, so candy isn’t an option,” she says. “So having another choice adds that element of joy to trick-or-treating.”
Christina also says that everyone should be on the lookout for the blue Halloween bucket. It’s the unofficial sign of autism and it helps everyone know that the child carrying that bucket could be on the spectrum.
For non-verbal children, Christina also has a trick-or-treat card for parents and families so that children who don’t communicate verbally can still be part of the holiday. “It’s an alternative to saying “trick or treat,” she says.
Ultimately, talking to children of all abilities about expectations for the night is a great way to set the tone for the night. “If someone knows that there might be some costumes that they’re afraid of and what they can do, that’s not going to be a shock when they’re out trick-or-treating,” she adds.
Social stories, planning ahead and having an open dialogue with children can help make a world of difference for all families during the holiday. To learn more about how Christina can help you and your family, visit her online at SoulAndMindEvolution.com.