Inclusive Halloween

5 ways to make Halloween more accessible

5 easy ways to make Halloween more inclusive

The spooky season is upon us! With delicious treats and cool costumes, it’s easy to see why Halloween is a favorite for kids across the US; however, it can be more tricks than treats for children with disabilities.  

As we’re all gearing up to celebrate with our families, friends and communities, it’s a great time to think about how to make the fun more inclusive. Here are a few easy ways to make Halloween a little more accessible for all children. 

Toys and treats

Handing out candy to trick-or-treaters is a Halloween tradition; however, some children may not be able to indulge. From food allergies to physical disabilities, there are many reasons why treats can be tricky.  

Think about adding non-edible alternatives to your treat bowl this year to ensure there’s an option for everyone. Items like small toys, stickers, costume jewelry, glow sticks, bookmarks or crayons are all great options.  

Take it one step further and add a teal pumpkin to your decorations. Part of the Teal Pumpkin Project, this acts as a recognizable sign to kids and parents that you have non-food treats available.

Sensory sensitivity

Some children with disabilities are sensory-sensitive, meaning that lots of scary sounds and decorations can be overwhelming or lead to migraines or seizures. Flashing lights, smoke machines, spider webs and moving decorations can all be potential triggers.

That’s not to say you have to cut out the decorations all together. There are a few different ways to deck out the house with inclusivity in mind: 

  • Position your decorations away from your main path. 
  • Limit decorations that make loud or abrupt noise and movements. 
  • Turn off or turn down any flashing lights, scary music or sounds during early trick-or-treating hours. 

Clear, accessible pathways

For many children with disabilities, getting to your door can be one of the most difficult parts of trick-or-treating. From stairs to steep driveways, there are plenty of potential obstacles that are often overlooked.  

Moving your treats closer to the sidewalk is a great way to make it easier for all trick-or-treaters. Alternatively, create a clear and accessible pathway to your door. You should:  

  • Make sure your pathway is well-lit, easy to navigate and free from steps, uneven ground and steep slopes. 
  • Limit any decorations that may be sensory triggers or tripping hazards. 
  • Avoid flashing lights along your pathway and around your door. 

Costume considerations

If you’re on door duty, you may be thinking about donning a scary or elaborate costume. It’s certainly a great way to add some extra spirit to the holiday.  

Before you go all out, here are a few easy adjustments you can make to ensure a welcoming Halloween greeting for all your tick-or-treaters:  

  • Be cautious of anything that’s too scary. Young children or children with sensory sensitivity may become overwhelmed.  
  • Make sure you can clearly communicate – watch out for make-up and masks that block or obscure your eyes and mouth.  
  • Be considerate of how your costume may be perceived by others. Avoid anything that pokes fun at or minimizes a person or group’s lived experience.  

Patience and understanding

Above all, patience and understanding goes a long way in making sure everyone has a happy Halloween.  

Keep in mind that some disabilities are not immediately discernible. Some children may have difficulty speaking, reaching or hearing. They may not say ‘trick-or-treat’ or ‘thank you’ right away. They may take a little longer to choose a treat. Or, they may need help with putting a treat in their container.   

Remember to exercise patience, offer help if needed and keep a positive attitude.