It’s that time of year again – Halloween! It can be pretty scary as a parent of a child with food allergies, or sensory integration or social challenges. The spine-chilling and super-challenging Three Scary C’s of Costumes, Candy and Crowds threaten to derail what should be a memorable family time. Here are a few tips that might make this year more of a treat for the whole family.
1.) COSTUMES Think simple, and comfortable. Stay away from anything with a mask that could restrict vision and cause a feeling of being confined or trapped. Try starting with a simple sweat suit in a solid color and adding details to make it a costume. Here are some ideas:
- Green sweat suit + turtle backpack = ninja turtle
- Black sweat suit + cat ears on the hood and a tail = cat
- Yellow sweat suit + black stripes and wings = bumble bee
- Pink sweat suit + wings =fairy or butterfly
- For more ideas, (and more creative ones) check out Morgan Shanahan’s article, 37 Cheap and Easy Sweatsuit Halloween Costumes at
2.) CANDY You may have a child who couldn’t care less about candy, and you can scarcely convince them to ring the doorbell and hold out their sack. On the other hand, you may have one who craves candy and sweets, but who tends to go a little crazy with too much sugar or artificial colors in their system. Or, maybe your child is allergic to almost everything and you can’t let them eat any candy until you’ve scrutinized the ingredients label for possible dangerous allergens. If so, the Teal Pumpkin Project is for you. Started by FARE: Food Allergies Research & Education, the Teal Pumpkin Project is all about raising awareness of food allergies and promoting inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season. If you see a house with a teal pumpkin on the porch or on a sign, you know you have found a family that offers non-food treats. Learn more about the project and find participating sites near you at https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project.
3.) CROWDS Many of our kids on the spectrum find the crowded atmosphere of groups of children clustered around door after door trick-or-treating to be stressful. Also, you may have spent all year teaching your child not to talk to people they don’t know. Suddenly, you’re encouraging them to take candy from strangers. (What is wrong with this picture?) You might want to restrict your trick-or-treating to homes of relatives and family friends, or to Teal Pumpkin designated homes. If the travel to and from so many places is still stressful for your little one, consider hosting a small Halloween party in your home. If it gets too stressful, your child retreat to their own room if needed. If you want to try modified trick-or-treating, enlist several friends or family members to help you create the experience inside your own home. Give each adult participant a bowl of approved treats and station them in different rooms behind closed doors. Then the children at the party go from room to room, knock, say “Trick or Treat,” receive their treats, and say “Thank you.” It’s good, safe, social practice, and everyone can have fun, knowing that you have created Halloween memories for your little ones without braving the big scary streets at night.
I hope this gives you some ideas to make this Halloween your best yet!
Have fun, and stay safe out there!