I have to confess, until a few days ago, I had not given a single thought to trick-or-treaters. For the past few years I’ve doing the college version of Halloween which consists of trick-or-treaters not coming to my dorm room (this has the bonus of keeping any candy I acquire). My parents’ house does not get a lot of trick-or-treaters either; because the house is in a heavily treed area, there will be about three trick-or-treaters this year.
Over the course of this week, one of my friends shared a photo Facebook reminding people to be patient with trick-or-treaters because not all trick-or-treaters are alike. Some may be autistic, non-verbal, or have food allergies. My mind was blown! My mom works with special needs students, but I hadn’t even thought of how something as fun as Halloween can be a struggle for families of kids with special needs. In order to keep all trick-or-treaters safe and to have a good time this Halloween, here are some tips for having the most welcoming house on the block!
First, here are some general house safety and decoration tips:
Keep your house well lit. This lets parents know that you are allowing trick-or-treaters, and light makes it safe for people to walk up your driveway. Turn your lights off when you are ready to pack your house in for the night.
Clear your driveway of things like toys, garden hoses, and wet leaves to make it safe for trick-or-treaters and their parents to get to your door.
For the safety of both trick-or-treaters and pets, make sure pets are secure either inside or in the backyard.
Don’t put out decorations that are too scary. It can be intimidating for young trick-or-treaters.
Make sure any candlelit decorations are out of the way, and on a sturdy surface. Another solution for avoiding dangerous, candlelit decorations is to substitute the candles for battery operated lights or glow sticks.
If you live on a block where all of your neighbors like to participate in Halloween, it could be really fun to partner with the whole street to make sure that you have the most friendly block in the neighborhood.
Next, some tips for having a safe house for kids with allergies (the most common of which are peanuts and soy products):
Offer small toys to kids with allergies. This could include small packs of crayons, glow sticks, or little trinkets that come from the dollar store.
Give out non-candy foods like chips or pretzels. These foods should still be wrapped, so parents don’t have to worry when they check their kid’s Halloween haul. According to the Rocky Mountain ADA Center, these kinds of treats (as well as the small toys) are also good for diabetic trick-or-treaters.
Pass out candy from this list of peanut and tree nut free candies. Don’t forget to keep them separated from candy that does contain peanut products to avoid cross contamination!
Paint one of your pumpkins teal. This year, Food Allergy Research & Education, Inc. is starting a new Halloween tradition, encouraging people to paint pumpkin teal so parents of trick-or-treaters with allergies will know which houses are safe for their children.
And lastly, here are some tips for accommodating trick-or-treaters who need a little patience and love on Halloween (most of which I found through the Rocky Mountain ADA Center):
Some parents place autism awareness stickers on their autistic trick-or-treater’s candy bag. Look out for these stickers so you know when to be a little extra patient with a trick-or-treater.
Stay away from decorations with strobe lights, which can be harmful for trick-or treaters with seizures.
Describe the treats in the bowl for blind trick-or-treaters so they can make a selection.
For trick-or-treaters who are deaf or hard of hearing, speak clearly and remember to smile. If the parent interprets for their little ghost or ghoul, remember to keep your attention devoted to the child.
Don’t pet or distract service dogs who may accompany trick-or-treaters.
If you are visited by trick-or-treaters with a stutter, be patient and let them finish their sentences.
Move your candy distribution operation to your driveway, or closer to the street, to help trick-or-treaters with limited mobility. This also helps little trick-or-treaters who are simply running out of energy!
These tips should make it easier to have a welcoming house for trick-or-treaters. Have a happy (and safe) Halloween!