Tonight, children across the country will walk around their hometown with a group of friends dressed as their favorite superheroes, princesses or monsters. However, what sometimes goes un-addressed around Halloween is that, although this holiday can be seen as a fun, carefree way for kids to let loose and get some free candy, for others this is perhaps the most stressful, overstimulating day of the year.
Let’s start with those teenagers. We’ve all heard it before: “Aren’t those kids too old to be trick-or-treating?” Though it might appear that way on the surface, you could also be looking at an 18-year-old with Down syndrome or autism. This holiday provides people with Down syndrome and autism the ability to 1. Test their sensory processing by dressing up in a costume. 2. Practice their ability to interact with strangers using phrases such as ‘yes please’ and ‘no thank you’ and 3. Have fun with friends!
Another common complaint during Halloween is when children come to a house and take more than one piece of candy. One reason for this could be because the child suffers from motor planning issues. Children who have Dyspraxia have difficulty with fine motor planning, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks. They typically receive individual tutoring for this, and Halloween is a great time for them to practice! A second reason why some children or teens might be taking more than one piece of candy could be because they’re on food stamps, and don’t often get the chance to have sweets like Kit Kats or M&Ms — is it really a big deal if they take more than one candybar?
Lastly, don’t get annoyed when a child looks through your candy bucket but ultimately leaves empty-handed. They’re not trying to insult you and they’re not being rude. They probably have a food allergy. Gluten, peanuts, chocolate, dairy; that’s just a short list of the many, many food allergies that children may have. Something my family does each year is have a second option on hand (like goldfish or pretzels) that is largely allergen free.
Remember that not every trick-or-treater is an average, middle-class child. There are going to be children walking the streets who have sensory deficiencies, social anxiety, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, food allergies and much, much more. Halloween is supposed to be a carefree holiday where children can dress up in a quirky costume and enjoy their favorite candy bar before bedtime. If you’re giving out candy this year, try to keep this article in mind. It’s everyone’s Halloween, so let everyone enjoy it!