Halloween Tips from Every Child
Halloween is filled with many scares, but should also be fun and inclusive for all! We asked Family Focused Clinical Supervisor, Melissa Sanders, M.S. and Associate Supervisor of Clinical Services, Meghan Spears for some tips for this upcoming holiday.
When preparing for trick or trick for kiddos with anxiety, looking at preparing them for the route they will take and who they will go with is a good idea. A parent might want to scope out the route beforehand, with the child present, as the environment is naturally WAY more stimulating/ anxiety-provoking on the night of trick or treat. In my opinion, staying in a familiar area is always best, as the child is usually more aware and comfortable with their neighborhood over somewhere they have never been.
To stay safe, parents should consider if a parent should be present with their child (depending on age and developmental stage). If a teenager is able to go on their own without a parent, that child should never go alone- maybe having a group of kids or at least one parent present. Parents should discuss a check-in plan for any children trick or treating in a group, as well as a establishing ‘curfew.’
Parents should check their child’s candy before allowing them to eat it. Any candy that looks as though it may have been opened before it was handed out or any food items that look tampered with should be thrown out immediately. Always come up with a list of expectations for trick or treat (i.e: do not go into anyone’s home unless you are with a parent and they say it is ‘ok,’ stay on the sidewalk and with your group/parent, no staying out past when it becomes dark outside, etc.) Having an open discussion beforehand allows everyone to know what to expect and stay safe. Most importantly, know where your child is- even if they’re old enough to trick or treat in a group of friends.
I know one thing I have seen a lot of this year is the blue bucket initiative. Basically children with Autism carry a blue bucket and it’s supposed to alert the homes that the child has Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or is nonverbal, so they won’t or can’t necessarily say trick or treat. This is the most attention I have seen given to the blue bucket ever, so I think it’s a big step for ASD. For more information on the blue bucket initiative, click here.
Some homes may even hand out things other than candy to children if they know they have special needs, such as stickers, fidgets or small toys. Personally I love this idea, as we know children with ASD or other special needs often have dietary restrictions and can’t have certain foods.
When it comes to trick or treating, watching fun Halloween movies to prepare for trick or treating is often helpful. Movies that depict the act of trick or treating in a fun, non-scary way help gives young kids and children with special needs an idea of what they might experience.
I have also found that trunk or treat events are often easier for children with autism. When I worked in special education we set up a sort of trunk or treat that was less stimulating for the kids. It can also feel safer for parents, as cars are parked and children aren’t walking up to someone’s front door. As we know children with ASD can be intrusive and not understand boundaries. I recommend attending the community events the surround Halloween rather than trick or treating door to door.