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Celebrating an Inclusive Halloween

Anna Valenza  Follow

Creating an inclusive environment requires everyone to embrace and celebrate differences of all kinds. As many choose their creative costumes and prepare for traditional Halloween festivities, households nation-wide should be sure to advocate for ALL trick or treaters.

The tradition of ‘Trick or Treating’ can be daunting for someone with special needs, especially if they are non-verbal. In 2019, a new tradition was created: the blue bucket campaign. This encouraged families to use a blue pumpkin candy basket as an unofficial signifier that their trick or treater has autism. The blue bucket campaign not only alerts households that the trick or treater may have difficulties interacting but also provides an opportunity for all, regardless of age or ability, to celebrate Halloween safely.

While October is a month filled with spooky festivities, it is also a month dedicated to Down Syndrome Awareness. In the spirit of inclusivity, here are some helpful tips and tricks to create an inclusive Halloween experience:

  • Be on the lookout for printed Trick or Treat hand out cards (see example blow) provided by parents and caregivers of children with special needs. These cards allow trick or treaters to communicate with ease and comfort.

  • Consider adaptive costumes & placement! “Due to medical issues, children with Down Syndrome tend to avoid costumes that have masks, helmets, head pieces or other objects covering their face or ears.” To adhere to the CDC recommendations, try to wear a face mask throughout the night to help protect all those around you.

  • While it may be convenient to place your treat bowl next to your door, for those who may be wheelchair bound going down a long dark driveway or trying to get up just a few steps can be extremely difficult. Sitting at the end of your driveway or on a flat surface allows for a much easier experience—plus you’re less likely to miss awesome costumes!

  • Some trick or treaters may have vision or hearing impairments that can affect their safety on Halloween night. “To help provide a safe environment at your home, keep your porch well-lit and clear a dedicated walking path.” If you have a trick or treater who relies on reading lips to communicate, it may be beneficial to keep a sign next to your treat bucket!

  • The Teal Pumpkin Project is a simple way to make trick-or-treating safer and more inclusive for the one in 13 children living with food allergies, and many others impacted by intolerances and other conditions. Placing a teal pumpkin on your doorstep signals that, in addition to candy, you offer non-food trinkets and treats that are safe for all trick or treaters. To learn more read here.

The support for special needs inclusivity goes beyond the everyday household as well. Some stores such as Target are setting great example of this through their adaptive Halloween costume line: Hyde & EEK! Boutique. These costumes feature everything from robots to mermaids while incorporating, “special design details like open backs for easy dressing, wheelchair-friendly fits, hidden openings and pockets for abdominal access and removable accessories, creating extra flexibility for those with sensitivities.” Read more here.

By implementing small changes here and there, we can all make a positive impact on the lives and experiences of people with special needs.


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