It’s officially that time of year… all around us cobwebs, spiders, ghosts, ghouls, jack-o-lanterns, and spooky lights adorn front lawns, bringing mixed reactions from people everywhere.
If you’re a huge fan of Halloween, it might be difficult to imagine someone not loving it all!
And if you’re not a fan, it might be hard to imagine why there’s such a fuss.
Over the years, there have been a variety of attempts to support people who might struggle with various aspects of the holiday… teal pumpkins for people with allergies, calls to give candy to those big kids who show up at your door, calls to give candy to the kid who didn’t dress up at all, or won’t say trick or treat, or can’t look you in the eye.
This year, we join the voices for inclusion by offering some tips and tricks to support neurodivergent people or people living with disabilities through the coming weeks.
First, let’s talk about access… do you have front steps? A steep driveway? Consider bringing your bowl of candy to a safe, accessible spot closer to the street so a trick or treater using a wheelchair can reach in and choose their favorite treat.
Do you have young people living with hearing loss in your neighborhood? Maybe someone who has difficulty engaging in conversation? Consider adding a sign to your treat bowl like, “Have a piece of candy! Please take only two so there is enough for others.” Or simply, “Happy Halloween!”
Do you know someone who is immune-compromised? Offering treats from a distance, or laying them out individually to help prevent grubby little fingers from touching each one can go a long way in keeping others safe. Also, remembering that washing your hands thoroughly prior to preparing your treat bowl can prevent the spread of anything you might not know you have yet (hello, prodromal stage).
Sensory profiles almost always play a role in whether or not folks with higher support needs can truly enjoy Halloween.
That kid who doesn’t wear a costume at all, or the one who refuses to put on a mask? It’s likely they have a heightened sense of discomfort in unfamiliar clothes or having something restrictive over their faces. That’s cool. Not a problem. Treats for everyone!
Maybe you’re an adult who still loves to dress up to hand out candy. Super fun! But, just like our access conversation above, consider putting out a “self-serve” bowl of treats too for those who feel overwhelmed by costumes… or exuberance.
Yes, we all know allergies are very real… nuts, dairy, gluten, soy… the list goes on. Not too many kiddos go over the moon for a Halloween apple, but there are other fun treats to hand out for those who might not be able to enjoy standard Halloween fare.
Non-edible fun could include glow sticks, stickers, scratch-off bookmarks, or even glow-in-the-dark bugs!
Can’t quite give up on a sweet treat? Try offering hard candies like Dum Dum lollipops or LifeSavers, which have fewer potential allergens. Perhaps you know someone who avoids artificial dyes? Black Forest Gummy Bears are dye-free and gluten-free, and Enjoy Life Chocolate Bars are dye-, dairy-, soy-, nut-, and gluten-free.
More than anything, and not just on Halloween, we could all use a little more kindness.
Don’t know what’s going on with that kid who shows up on your doorstep? A simple smile accompanying your treats is all you need.
What do you do to help make Halloween inclusive at your house?