Halloween for everyone
When we think of Halloween, we think of trick-or-treating, costumes, jack-o-lanterns, haunted houses, and lots and lots of candy-----‘sweet’, fun, exciting, and adventurous times. But it can also be overwhelming, scary, and sometimes discriminating for some children. If you haven’t seen this PSA doing the rounds yet, here’s your local speech pathologist’s take on it!
Trick or treating doesn’t always look the same for every child.
Not all children are able to say trick or treat, answer questions, or say thank you. They might have communication differences or social difficulties.
Not all children understand the concept of only taking one piece of candy.
The child who takes a long time to pick out one piece of candy may have fine motor or motor planning issues.
The child who isn't wearing a costume at all might have sensory processing issues and sensitivities.
The older child at your doorstep may have a developmental disability …..or not! Maybe they are neurotypical teenagers who want to experience for yet another year, one of the most loved traditions of childhood----Trick-or-treating!
It doesn’t necessarily mean that these children are being rude or haven’t been taught manners or social expectations.
If only we could all be a little more understanding and accepting of everyone. Whatever their neurodivergent challenges might be, they should NOT have to advertise their diagnoses by carrying pumpkin pails of any specific color (On a side note, if you have heard about the blue pumpkins, please know that the autistic community does not endorse autistic children having to carry blue pumpkin pails to let people around them know that they are autistic. This may set up the child for potential bullying, among other dangers)
Here’s another thing that makes Halloween difficult for some children- Food allergies.
Not all children can consume food without their parents looking at labels and constantly worrying about allergen risk and food safety.
This is why the Teal Pumpkin Project is such a wonderful effort in inclusivity for children with food allergies. It is a simple way to make trick-or-treating safer and more inclusive for the one in 13 children living with food allergies, and many others impacted by intolerances and other conditions. Placing a teal pumpkin on your doorstep signals that, in addition to candy, you offer non-food trinkets and treats that are safe for all trick-or-treaters. Thus the teal pumpkin is on OUR doorstep- the responsibility is on us, on society to make accommodations for the children in our community.
Here is a link to the Teal Pumpkin Project, if you would like to add your home to the Teal Pumpkin Project Map for Halloween season. By offering non-food treats, like stickers or toys, along with traditional candy, households aim to create a welcoming and accommodating Halloween experience for all kids.
This was just a little reminder that Halloween can be a little easier and more enjoyable for everyone, no matter their unique abilities. If you or someone you know is seeking speech or dysphagia therapy, Resonate Therapy Solutions is here to help.