Happy Halloween for ALL!



beautiful little girl with Down syndrome sitting near a pumpkin on Halloween dressed as a skeleton

Ghosts and Goblins and Werewolves – Oh my!

It’s that spooky time of year again – yup, you guessed it! HALLOWEEN! This is the time of year where parents go  from store to store looking for just the right Spider-Man costume, buy enough candy to send their dentist’s grand kids to college, and get their 10,000 steps in 2 short hours of handing out candy.

However, that’s not the case for ALL parents. For parents of kiddos with special needs, this time of year can feel a bit lonely. If the Spider-Man costume doesn’t come with Spidey-sense to let you know that your kiddo is getting a little overwhelmed at the neighborhood Halloween party, it could be a disaster in the making. Now to be fair, no costume can tell you that, but there are things you can do ahead of time that can help ward off a sensory overload. Truth be told, there are tons of things you can do ahead of time to make sure that your Halloween is inclusive this year – not just for your kid, but for ALL kids that come a-knockin! Here are 3 sure-fire tips:

1. Get Creative!

If your kiddo uses a mobility device to get around, you’ve kind of hit the jackpot of creativity. There are so many great ideas for costumes you can come up with, all while incorporating their wheelchair or walker! My favorite one is this guy – he incorporates a reclined wheelchair, and, well…it’s just makes me “bubble” over with delight!

Wheelchair Bubble Bath Costume Wheelchair Penalty Box Costume

2. Think TREATS Not Tricks!

Nothing says Halloween like an EpiPen emergency, right? NOT! There are lots of kids that are going to be out getting candy like it’s their JOB, and because they’re kids, they’re not necessarily reading the labels. Their main objective is to get as much sugar into their little mouths as they can, as quickly as possible. We can do our part by doing 1 of 2 things: taking part in the Teal Pumpkin Project, or buying candies that are designated TOP 8 FREE. So what exactly does TOP 8 FREE mean? It means that your treats are free of the following: eggs, peanuts, milk, soy, wheat, shellfish, tree nuts, and fish.

My favorite TOP 8 FREE treat to pass out?

3. Don’t Overthink…Or OVERLOAD. 

Who doesn’t love a great Halloween party? Scary movies, ghoulish games, haunted houses – so much fun, right? Well, kiddos with Sensory Processing Disorder may disagree with you. While all of that seems like a devilishly good time for your little mummies and werewolves, it can be downright overwhelming for a kiddo who has a hard time with lots of noise, surprises, or unfamiliar faces. Why not trade out the monster movie for the monster sensory bin? Instead of watching The Blob, why not make The Blob? This could be a super fun, and super sensory-safe Halloween activity for our friends with SPD.

Jello Sensory Balls

So there ya have it – three easy tips for having a truly INCLUSIVE Halloween! Fore more tips (and to see how to execute the tips you see here), check out my handy-dandy Inclusive Halloween Guide! It’s 36 pages of fa-boo-lous Halloween delight!


Adiba Nelson is a New York City girl turned desert dweller. She currently resides in Tucson, AZ and is the author of the popular children’s book “Meet ClaraBelle Blue“. Adiba is also a contributing writer for My Brown Baby, and The Huffington Post, as well as freelance writer for her local newspaper, Tucson Weekly. She is a staunch advocate for the visibility and inclusion of individuals with special needs, and recently gave her first TEDx talk.

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