If there’s one occasion that tops children’s lists of the best day of the year, Halloween just might be it. The costumes! The haunted houses and places! And, of course, so many treats! Children—and many of those who are young at heart—look forward to this spooky occasion for weeks and are bursting with excitement by the time it rolls around.
There is a lot to plan for when it comes to Halloween and one thing that can be unintentionally overlooked is making sure that the day is accessible and inclusive. Here are some tips that you can easily incorporate into your treat station to help make it a wonderful Halloween for all the trick-or-treaters who come by your home.
Make your treat station accessible and barrier-free.
If your home has stairs leading to the entry-way, set up an accessible treat station in your front lawn, driveway, or even in your garage. At Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador’s annual event, Trunk or Treat, the community sets up treat stations in the backs of vehicles! Wherever you set up, make sure that the path to the treat station is wide and clear of obstacles so that trick-or-treaters (or their parents/caregivers) who have mobility challenges or who use devices such as wheelchairs or walkers are able to reach your treat station easily and safely.
Stock up on alternate “treats.”
Not all children are able to eat traditional Halloween treats. Children with allergies, diabetes or disabilities that impact their ability to swallow will be really happy for alternative, non-edible treats like stickers, crayons, pencils & erasers, small toys, etc. Get creative and provide a variety of treat options for the ghouls, superheroes and princesses that may come by. Just be sure to keep your edible and non-edible treats in separate bowls.
Be aware of diverse behaviours and communication styles.
Some children have unique ways of behaving and communicating, and may carry a blue pumpkin to indicate this. Be aware and understanding that children may have different ways of saying “trick or treat”—whether signing, using assistive technology, taking more time to speak or by not saying anything at all. Remember that while some trick-or-treaters may appear older, they may still be very young at heart and would be thrilled for a treat. A smile and a friendly wave go a long way to show you appreciate them for stopping by.
Describe or show trick-or-treaters what you are giving them.
For trick-or-treaters who are blind or deaf, it is very helpful to either describe what you are giving them or hold up the treat so they can see it before placing it in their bag so they know what they are receiving.
Ditch the strobe lights, scary sounds and loud music.
Loud or frightening noises and bright flashing lights can cause big problems for trick-or-treaters with sensory processing issues, autism or epilepsy. Keep your décor free of over-stimulating lights and loud or scary sounds to ensure that more children can visit your treat station without sensory barriers.
Let your neighbourhood know that you are making efforts to be accessible.
You can display a sign your window or yard that lets everyone know that Halloween will be accessible at your home.
→ Treat Accessibly is offering free lawn signs and flags in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada that you can put outside your home to let kids and parents know that you are committed to providing an accessible trick-or-treating experience for kids. You can also get creative and design your own sign. (Pro tip: this is a great way to get kids involved too!)
→ Placing a teal coloured/painted pumpkin on your doorstep signals to parents and caregivers that your house offers non-food treats such as little games, crayons or stickers for children with food allergies.
From all of us at Easter Seals, we wish you a happy, safe and accessible Halloween!