SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — An estimated one in 59 children in the US is diagnosed with autism each year, making it very likely that a child with a disability may be stopping by your house this Halloween. Easterseals Midwest works with the developmentally disabled, and provides the following tips to make the spooky holiday more inclusive.
Whether you are putting up scary zombies or a smiling jack-o-lantern, consider avoiding flashing or excessive lights and loud music.
Consider offering toys or trinkets, as it can be hard to anticipate allergies.
Some children with disabilities may have less developed motor skills, and could take a longer time to choose a candy or take more than one piece.
If a teenager or young adult rings your doorbell, keep in mind that maturity levels and the interests of individuals with developmental disabilities don’t always line up with age.
“It can be kind of a difficult time just because it’s a break from routine and structure, and it’s a unique holiday,” said Kirsten Binder with Easterseals. “Some individuals might not be verbal, so you might not hear ‘trick-or-treat’ or ‘thank you,’ and that’s okay.”
One way to show trick-or-treaters that you are aware of developmental disabilities, is to put a blue pumpkin on your doorstep. Blue is the color of Autism Awareness Month and is often used to represent the disability.
Also keep an eye out for kids carrying around blue pumpkins who might be trying to indicate that they have autism, and appreciate your extra patience this Halloween.
“Try to keep an open mind this Halloween and be patient and understanding,” suggests Binder.