Tips to Help Keep Children with “Special Needs” Safe and Have Fun This Halloween

Halloween is approaching quickly, which means ghosts and goblins will be trick-or-treating in our local neighborhoods. During this fun holiday we also need to keep our children safe from harm and injury while trick-or-treating. Here are some suggestions to make the most out of the Halloween experience:

  • If the sensory rich experience is to much for “our children” plan a party at home that is more sensory friendly.
  • You can practice trick or treating with your child in the days leading up to Halloween. He could knock on the door to the bedroom, you could open it, and he would say “trick or treat!” Then you could give him a little toy or candy to put in his bag.
  • The most important thing is do what is fun for your child and don’t be too worried if a meltdown happens anyway.
  • If your child is not able to eat the types of treats typically given, have some of their favorite treats available, trade them the candy they can’t eat for the candy or other treats they can eat.
  • If your child can not adapt to the sensitivity of a costume, you can give him the option to just wear a funny or scary Halloween t-shirt.
  • Be sure costumes do not limit mobility or breathing.
  • Use only flame resistant costumes
  • Have the child try on and wear the costume on different days prior to Halloween to make sure they are not sensitive to it.
  • Trick-or-treaters in costumes need to be able to see and be seen. Do not use costumes that impact any of “our child’s” senses.
  • Give them a flashlight to light their way and reflective tape on costumes or trick-or-treat bags to help them be seen. Keep in mind that the sun sets around 6:30pm on Halloween evening.
  • Make sure that child’s vision will not be obscured by masks or headpieces, you may want to choose face paint instead of a mask.
  • Be cautious around animals, especially dogs that can be frightened by costumes and unexpected guests coming up to their house.
  • Stay in neighborhoods you are familiar with. Visit homes that have the exterior lights on and only accept treats at the door, never enter a stranger’s home.
  • Parents and older siblings should set a positive example. Walk on sidewalks, if available. If not, walk on the edge of the roadway, facing oncoming traffic. Always look both ways before crossing the street and cross at corners or traffic signals when possible.
  • Bring bottled water for trick-or-treaters. It’s still hot in Florida, and wearing warm costumes could overheat children.
  • Travel in groups and encourage parents to walk children door to door while trick-or-treating.
  • Always check children’s treats before they eat them. Discard anything that looks like it has been unwrapped or tampered with.
  • For those who may not be able to say Trick or Treat, make cards or a sign expressing what they would like to say
  • Halloween should be fun for everyone participating, if trick or treating is not fun for your child, substitute it
    with a preferred activity that is fun for them. It is ok.

Dr. Eric Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D. Certified Developmental and Behavioral Specialist

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