Halloween is upon us! Time for pumpkins, apple cider, and of course, the little ones going from door to door asking for candy. Culturally, we have an expectation that trick-or-treaters coming to our house will be grateful, obedient, and look and act a certain way. But what happens when kids at your doorstep don’t quite act the way you think they should? Here are some tips to deal with unique trick-or-treaters:
A Child Takes More Than One Piece of Candy
Isn’t there some sort of unspoken rule that it’s only appropriate for a kid to take a single piece of candy from the pot? If you have a child grab a fist full of Hersheys, it may be that he/she is a little greedy, but there may be something more: some young children have social, cognitive, or even motor deficits that makes it difficult to take a single piece or to understand what’s appropriate. Assume positive intention, and tell kids right from the beginning, “just one piece each, please!” Better yet, hand them a single piece of candy yourself.
A Child Doesn’t Say Anything
It’s customary to hear a chorus of “trick-or-treat!” when you open the front door on Halloween night, but what if a child is silent? Someone with autism, social anxiety, or extreme shyness may not be very vocal at all. You can help make him/ her feel more comfortable by saying something like “you look so great in your costume!” Don’t take a child’s silence as a sign of being rude or grateful; most likely he/she is just a little uncomfortable or overwhelmed.
A Child Isn’t Wearing A Costume
Dressing up is the most fun part of Halloween, right? Not always. Though putting on a princess costume, a monster mask, or a superhero cape can be exciting for some children, those who experience autism or sensory integration disorder can be highly agitated by uncomfortable textures & fabrics. If a child comes to your door who isn’t wearing a costume, he/she still needs to be embraced just as much as anyone else.
Food Allergies Are An Important Consideration
More and more children these days are dealing with unique food allergies (or other food issues). Recently, a turquoise pumpkin has come to symbolize a house that is giving out food allergy safe treats. Consider offering simply toys, a bag of pretzels, or other goodies for kids who may not be able to eat the same kinds of candy. Also, as always, parents need to go through their kids’ bags of candy when they get home from trick-or-treating to make sure everything is safe for them.