Halloween is just around the corner, and we at Able South Carolina want to help ensure that everyone gets a chance to participate in the festivities. Here are five easy ways to make your Halloween more disability-friendly.
- Offer alternatives to candy.
People with food allergies or diabetes may feel left out on Halloween if there is nothing safe for them to eat. Sugar-free candy is an option, but given how diverse and complex food allergies and intolerances can be, it may be better to forgo food altogether. Offer toys and trinkets, such as glowsticks, coloring sheets, and (wheat-free) Play-Doh in addition to candy. Many children with and without disabilities will be delighted to get a toy!
- Be mindful of sensory differences.
Conditions such as Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder can cause tactile hypersensitivity. This means that people with those disabilities are very sensitive to touch. This can make wearing a traditional Halloween costume very difficult. It can be hard to enjoy yourself when everything you are wearing is too itchy, too hot, or too tight. Many people avoid sensory overload by wearing a character t-shirt in lieu of a costume, so if you see someone trick-or-treating without a costume, please do not assume that they are being lazy or not participating. It is very likely that they are trying harder than you think!
- Avoid displaying flashing lights.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Do not use flashing lights in your Halloween displays and haunted houses. Flashing lights can trigger migraines and they can also trigger seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy, which can make Halloween much less fun and even dangerous for people with certain disabilities. The good news is that there are plenty of decorations that do not have strobe lights in them. If you absolutely must use flashing lights, be sure to post a warning notice outside of your display to keep everyone safe!
- Put your treats at the bottom of the stairs.
As a wheelchair user, I was very fortunate to have friends and family who were willing to help me go trick-or-treating. A lot of houses have stairs leading up to the front door, which makes it impossible for a wheelchair user like me to access the Halloween treats. It is wonderful to have friends who can assist you, but it is much more fun to pick out a treat for yourself. When passing out treats on Halloween, try to sit at the bottom of the stairs so that wheelchair users can approach you on their own. You might just make someone’s night!
- Respect all types of communication.
Speech difficulties are very common in people with a wide range of disabilities, and it can make interacting with people a challenge. If you encounter a trick-or-treater who does not say “Trick-or-treat!” or “Happy Halloween!” or “Thank you!” you should not assume that they are being rude, because they just might have a disability. Some people may participate by handing out index cards, using a communication device, or signing, and some people may have no means of traditional communication. But all will be grateful for your inclusive attitude.
Happy Halloween from Able South Carolina! Have fun!
Written By: Grace Trumpower