By Michael Rock:
Few celebrations are as important to American children as Halloween. However, there are often barriers that make it harder for children with disabilities to fully celebrate. Fortunately, they are easy to work around.
This year, Target began selling adaptive costumes as well as themed wheelchair covers for those trick-or-treaters who have difficulty getting into traditionally-structured costumes.
Meanwhile, Toronto is home to a “treat accessibility” program, where participants pledge to make it easier for trick-or-treaters with mobility impairments to get candy at their homes, such as by building ramps or handing it out from their garage or front step.
For children with autism who may have difficulty communicating while trick-or-treating, blue pumpkin buckets have emerged as an option to help people giving out candy better recognize and understand that they may not be able to greet or thank them.
Some people disagree with this approach, saying that it will lead to trick-or-treaters with autism being labeled and treated differently.
Other ways you can be more accommodating of trick-or-treaters with disabilities can include avoiding decorations with flashing lights, offering small toys for allergy sufferers, recognizing different maturity levels, and using alternate communication methods for those with verbal impairments. Parents should have their kids put on their costume ahead of time to check for necessary adjustments, limiting candy intake, allowing them to finish when they want, and ensuring they have identification on them.
Taking all of these in mind, it should be easy for your child to have a Happy Halloween.
Michael Rock is a New York City-based reporter and self-advocate with autism. A graduate of Brandeis University, his work has appeared in Kings County Politics, Chelsea Now, Our Town, Queens County Politics, and WhoWhatWhy.