ways to ensure your celebration is inclusive
Are you looking forward to handing out candy and other goodies this year?
Prior to turning on that porch light (or lighting that fire pit in the driveway if you're from my neck of the woods), we recommend doing a quick inclusion "spot check" to ensure that you're ready to have individuals of all abilities come to celebrate with you.
Here's a quick list to support you with ensuring that the holiday experience is fun but also a comfortable and safe space for all individuals.
You have the best intentions. Your guests will have the best intentions. Let's freshen up on how neurodiversity may present during a sensory and communication filled holiday!
Not Everyone Can Say "Thank You"
Verbal communication is difficult! Not every individual can verbalize the words "thank you". Not every individual can sign the words "thank you". Some individuals can verbalize but struggle with intentional and forced communication.
We recommend scratching that outdated practice of requiring a "thank you" before distributing the prize. Just give the goodie and know that we all show and feel gratitude in different ways.
Same With Trick-or-Treat
I don't know what neurotypical individual came up with the whole concept of saying "trick-or-treat" before candy distribution BUT I'm going to go out on a limb and say it was invented a very, very long time ago. We have evolved since then and recognize that forcing anyone to verbalize the works "trick-or-treat" (I mean--it has two /r/ blends in it...it's not an easy phrase!) may take the fun out of the holiday for many kids.
Costumes Aren't Enjoyable For Everyone
Halloween costumes--they're uncomfortable. Personally, I don't like them either and I rock a good animal pajama onesie every year (cow pictures to come).
There may be individuals that show up to trick-or-treat that are not wearing a costume. I would avoid the awkward "wait, what are you???" question and keep on keeping on with your evening.
You may See All Ages!
Our neurodiverse populations are getting older and may want to keep the structure and routine of celebrating this fun holiday. To keep your holiday inclusive, we recommend an "all ages welcome" approach :).
Not Everyone Eats Orally OR Can Have Candy
To make your Halloween station accessible to all individuals, it's a good idea to keep some non-food items on the side. This can make your space allergen-friendly and also a safe space for individuals that require non-oral feeding.
Placing a teal pumpkin outside of your house helps those caregivers and individuals know there's alternatives there.
If You're Set On Each Child Having One Piece of Candy, Do This...
Our neurodiverse friends or friends with motor difficulties may struggle with the physical and/or conceptual aspects of grabbing one piece of out candy out of a bowl. If you are wanting all individuals visiting your house to grab just one piece of candy, I would definitely drop the piece of candy in their bag as opposed to having a bowl with candy in it.
Thank you for making your Halloween an inclusive one! Together, if we all take a step at a time, the world will continue to be a place for individuals of all abilities.