For most of us, Halloween is a holiday filled with fantasy, fun and candy. For children and adults with a disability there can be some unique challenges.
Avoid a too-scary night and treat yourself to the following list of enchanting Halloween safety tips. Based loosely off a list prepared by Prevent Blindness America in 2005, the tips are valuable for any children with a disability but are geared more towards kids who are visually impaired or blind.
1. Stay away from costumes that include elaborate masks, eye patches, long-haired wigs or over-sized hats. They can become unwieldy and may frustrate children. Be prepared to wear them yourself if your child decides to discard it!
2. In lieu of a freakishly scary mask, which can feel claustrophobic and limit vision, try creating a mask with makeup or face paint. Kits can be purchased from specialty stores or just about any drugstore or supermarket. Moms, you can also use your own makeup! Just make sure it’s hypo-allergenic before applying it on your child’s skin.
3. Be careful with fake eyelashes. These can be dreadfully irritating to a child’s eyes if not applied correctly.
4. Grisly boots, princess slippers and any other shoes should fit snugly so they don’t fall off in the fog on Halloween night.
5. Ensure all your child’s costume elements are fire resistant. You can do this by checking tags or the costume packaging. (Don’t take a match or lighter to it like a mindless mummy would.)
6. If your child is uncomfortable in a traditional costume, let them pick out something they enjoy instead. Maybe they prefer a Halloween themed T-shirt, or forgoing a costume altogether. Some children with cognitive differences are uncomfortable with trick-or-treating. That’s okay! Let them hand out candy at home, with parental supervision of course.
7. After a night of fun, go through the candy haul and remove anything that looks like it may have been opened or tampered with. For those with food allergies, look for these teal pumpkins! The Teal Pumpkin Project is a movement to provide non-food treats, so children with food allergies or other conditions can still fill their bucket.
8. Don’t be afraid while walking around your neighborhood in the mysterious moonlight of All Hallows’ Eve. Sport a bright and/or reflective costume so street traffic can easily see you. Remind your ghoulish gang to walk on the sidewalk and look both ways before crossing a street!
9. Children with visual disabilities who are not fully blind should use a flashlight to brighten walkways, sidewalks and staircases. Parents: you can also utilize the flashlight function on your smartphone if you prefer not to lug around a flashlight all night.
10. Children with disabilities may need a little practice trick or treating before the big day! If your child has a visual disability, mapping the route you’ll take can help them feel more comfortable and confident. Children with cognitive disabilities may be comforted by practicing the trick-or-treat ritual beforehand. Let your kid practice knocking on your front door, or try it out on a neighbor’s house!
11. Avoid pointed or sharp costume elements like swords, spears or lightsabers. While they are fake and usually made of plastic or Styrofoam, they can still cause harm to someone if a bizarre accident occurs.
12. Younger ghouls and goblins should always trick-or-treat with one or more adults alongside. It’s better to be safe than sorry when you’re out during the one night a year when warlocks, monsters, werewolves and vampires rule the streets!
13. Tweens and teens are encouraged to troll neighborhoods in groups. Being in a group is safer and makes it less frightening if you’re approached by shadowy specters or worse yet, a spooky stranger who is walking the streets without a costume.
14. If you find yourself in a creepy or unfamiliar neighborhood, only stop at houses with bright porch lights or visible Halloween decorations. Kids with blindness should rely on sighted parents or friends to guide them to the right houses.
15. Bring a cauldron of common sense with you. Stay away from strange streets that are under construction, agonizing alleyways and horrifyingly heavy-traffic areas.
A fun alternative to trick-or-treating is a trunk-or-treat, fall festival or local Halloween party! Many community centers, school and churches offer alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating. Your kids can still dress up, haul in the candy loot, but in an environment that is more controlled and often safer than navigating the streets.
Most of all, be aware, take care and have fun! Pull a prank or two… if you must.
Happy Halloween from all of us at Braille Works!
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