A More Inclusive Halloween: Supports for Special Needs while Trick or Treating

Halloween is always so much fun for kids, because, well, candy...and special needs kids are no exception!

Here's a few ways to help individuals with special needs have an enjoyable trick-or-treating experience this year: including multiple AAC supports, a free social story, links to wheelchair cover costumes, teal pumpkin treats, and more! 

A More Inclusive Halloween: Supports for Special Needs while Trick or Treating

How to Say Trick or Treat for Non-Verbal Kids

Hopefully, most people are kind enough to pass out candy to every trick-or-treater who comes to their door with their bag open regardless of whether or not they say trick or treat, but it's also fun to be able to participate in saying "trick or treat".

Here are a few unique ways that non-verbal kids can say trick-or-treat!

  1. Use a Big Mack Switch or another programmable device to say "trick-or-treat" when a button is hit.
  2. If they have a portable communication device and it is easily attached to a wheelchair or another device, program a trick-or-treat button!
  3. Wear a bracelet that says trick-or-treat and point to the symbols. Free download here.
  4. Use this Halloween Trick or Treat symbol tote. The front says "trick-or-treat" with symbols and the back has a 20-grid communication device to help kids communicate further while they are trick-or-treating.
Non-verbal ways to say trick or treat. Pictured is a big mac switch saying "trick or treat", a halloween tote bag with symbol saying trick or treat and communication board, and a trick or treat bracelet with symbols.

And all that to say, don't put pressure on saying trick-or-treat! It's totally okay if they don't say anything and they just enjoy the experience. It's a lot to take in!

Bring a Communication Board Along

Be sure that non-verbal trick-or-treaters can communicate with you by bringing along a themed communication board. I created this 20-grid communication board on Widgit Online and it includes a variety of core and fringe words so that individuals can express themselves while trick-or-treating. 

Free download Trick or Treat communication board: pictured is a 20 grid communication board made with widgit symbols

Grab the communication board on the Halloween tote or as a free download here.

Use a Social Story to Explain Trick or Treating

Further set students up for success by utilizing a social story explaining exactly what happens while trick-or-treating. 

Social story with 6 steps and symbol support for trick or treating

Download the one linked above for free or make your own based on the trick or treat experience you will be attending.

Prepare for Sensory Disruptions

As you walk through your neighborhood, you might want to skip certain houses based on decorations if they are too much for your trick-or-treater. You can also help prepare kids by talking about motion sensored decorations, lights, etc and maybe it won't surprise them quite at much! 

When I was in the classroom, we would practice "scaring" each other with a fake (cute looking) spider. The students knew it was coming and had fun reacting when it got close to them. Simple role playing activities like this may help students enjoy (or at least not be as surprised / scared by) Halloween decorations.

Look for Teal Pumpkin Houses for Non-Food Treats

I love the teal pumpkin project and we always make sure to have an allergy-friendly treat (airheads and skittles have been great options in the past for top 8 allergen-free) and also non-food treats available at our house. 

Here's some idea of non-food treats to offer (psst: I may be the odd one out, but I recommend not getting the Halloween themed trinkets, they aren't fun after Halloween!)

6 Candy Alternatives for Halloween Treats: stickers, slap bracelets, squishy animals, play doh and more

If you are looking for places to trick-or-treat that have treats that are not food for individuals with allergies or restricted diets, check here to search the map of teal pumpkins in your area! (And add your house if you offer some of these treats!!)

Dress Up the Wheelchair

Amazon and Target have really been stepping it up with the wheelchair costumes the last few years! Most seem to be around $25-$35 at the time of this posting, but you could also grab some of your amazon boxes, some scissors and paint and make your own wheelchair costume!

Wheel chair cover costumes: elsa horse, buzz lightyear spaceship, and minnie mouse car all on wheelchairs

Here's a few of my favorites from Amazon affiliate links.

Spread Awareness on Social Media

Help those around you be kind and aware this Halloween as there is a wide variety of individuals who may come to their door trick or treating this year. 

Reminders for an Inclusive Halloween: A child who doesn’t say trick or treat or thank you may be non-verbal. Don’t make kids say anything to get their candy.  Some kids may have difficulties grabbing or choosing a piece of candy – consider handing the candy directly to the kids  1 in 13 kids have food allergies. Consider having non-food treats available.  Not all disabilities are visible Be kind and have fun. Happy Halloween!

Share these graphics on your Facebook and/or Instagram pages and pin here!

Happy Halloween!

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