Five Ways to Enjoy the Fourth of July

Father & Son Enjoying the Fourth of July

Independence Day. It’s the time for celebratory fireworks, family barbecues, pool parties and parades — past-times that most Americans anticipate with pleasure. Yet for children with sensory integration disorders and their parents, the loud noises, bright lights, strong odors, hot temperatures and big crowds associated with these activities may instead create feelings of anxiety, fear or even dread. If you’re a parent facing the Fourth of July holiday with trepidation, here are some suggestions for a stress-free celebration.

Prep your child
If you intend to take part in Fourth of July activities, make sure your child knows what to expect. You can prepare a social story about the holiday and read books that tell the story of Independence Day. If you’re attending a social event, tell your child what foods will be served and let him know who is likely to be there. Role-play social situations so your child is prepared to greet other guests and initiate play with other children at the event. If you’ll be attending a parade, try to find out about what floats, musicians and costumed characters will be part of the festivities so your child is prepared for who and what he will see and hear there.

Prepare your hosts
If you’re visiting friends or family, let them know what will work best for your child. Tell them about her sensitivities, favorite foods and find out if there’s a place in the house to where she can retreat if she runs out of steam and needs to decompress. Though it can seem daunting to share your child’s challenges with people outside the immediate family, those who care for you will likely be receptive and happy to help.

Pack a bag
Take along some easy-to-transport toys, sunscreen, sunhats, snacks, rain-gear and a sweatshirt in case of inclement weather. Pack some favorite books and DVDs if you suspect that your child will need time alone.

Be fireworks savvy
If you intend to watch fireworks, bring along noise canceling headphones and a weighted vest or blanket to help your child feel calm and comforted. Consider watching the fireworks from a window or on TV with the sound turned down. That way, children can enjoy the brilliant lights and colors of the fireworks, without the noise. Some children are drawn to the sound and spectacle of fireworks. Be sure to teach your child fireworks safety precautions.

Wait till next year
If after considering all the options, you determine that it’s just too stressful to venture out on the Fourth of July, give yourself and your child a break. Stay home, have a family game or movie night, eat good food and relax. Perhaps next year, your child will be ready to join the Fourth of July festivities.

Sensitive Santas Visit Malls Across the Country

It’s been more than a century since James Edgar, of Brockton Massachusetts became the first department store Santa Claus. Since then, visiting Santa at department stores and shopping malls has become an annual holiday tradition for generations of children. But until recently, children with disabilities often missed out on the fun. That’s because department stores and shopping malls, with their throngs of people, long lines, fluorescent lighting and super-stimulating atmospheres can be uncomfortable for children with autism, sensory integration disorders and other developmental disabilities. As Lucia Murillo, Autism Speaks’ assistant director of education research explains, “The abundance of sights, sounds, crowds and other sensory stimuli can easily trigger challenging behaviors that seem near-impossible to handle in a public place.”

Yet in 2011, disabilities activists from Autism Speaks and other organizations initiated partnerships with companies such as Cherry Hill Programs (which brings Santa and the Easter Bunny to venues across the country) to offer sensory-friendly “Santa experiences” for children with special needs. During these Santa experiences, stores and malls typically dim lights, turn off music, and keep crowds to a minimum by opening a couple of hours earlier than usual. Families can make appointments to meet with Santa, so there’s no need for waiting in line. Sensory friendly Santas receive training in how to interact with children with special needs. According to Disability Scoop, this holiday season, sensory-friendly Santa experiences will be available at more than 300 different locations across the country. That’s up from 180 locations in 2016! To locate a mall with a sensory Santa experience near you, visit Autism Speaks website.

In addition to sensory friendly Santa experiences, stores such as Target and Costco have also been offering sensory friendly or quiet shopping experiences for families with children with autism. For example, a Framingham, Massachusetts Target store partnered with the Asperger/Autism Network to offer a sensory friendly shopping event on Dec. 10. As NBC Boston reported, the store opened three hours early. “During those hours,” said NBC.com “the store will shut off music, dim lights and minimize flashing screens. There will also be a quiet corner where guests can relax.”

Need a toy for a special person? No need to go to the mall or a store. Just visit enablingdevices.com.

Nine Tips for Having a Peaceful Holiday Season

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” Or so the classic holiday song goes… While it’s true that the holiday season evokes traditions that many of us hold dear — opportunities for special times with family and friends, great food, parties and festive decorations — it can also bring added stress, particularly for families of children with special needs. As we enter the holiday season, here are some tips for keeping stress to a minimum and joy to a maximum.

1.  Make entertaining a team effort
If you love hosting holiday parties, go for it. But don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether that means hiring someone to serve and clean up, throwing a potluck rather than cooking for days, using paper plates, or even catering the meal, do whatever you need to do to manage your workload so you can enjoy your party.

2. Don’t be afraid to say no
Just because you receive an invitation, doesn’t mean you have to accept it. If you know your child needs a good night sleep, or is likely to be uncomfortable at a given holiday event, there’s no rule that says you can’t bow out gracefully. People who care about you will not be offended if you decline an invitation,” say the folks at the Friendship Circle. Simply explain that it will not work for your special family. Figure out which events and activities are must-dos and let go of the rest. Maybe opt for a quiet night at home instead.”

3. Prep your child
Most children benefit from being prepared for new situations. Children with special needs, particularly those on the autism spectrum, may need extra preparation to feel comfortable. One way to prepare children with autism is by “creating a visual story (a series of pictures or drawings)” suggest the folks at Autism Speaks. They also recommend tasting holiday foods beforehand, practicing social behaviors such as shaking hands, taking turns when opening gifts, and rehearsing how to behave if you receive a gift that you don’t like.

4. Prep your guests or hosts
If you’re visiting friends or family who aren’t familiar with your child, you may want to prepare them for what to expect. For example, “Help them to understand if the person with autism prefers to be hugged or not, needs calm discussions or provide other suggestions that will facilitate a smoother holiday season,” says the Autism Society. “If the individual becomes upset, it might also be helpful to coach others to remain calm and neutral to minimize behavioral outbursts.” Likewise, guests and hosts may appreciate your help when it comes to choosing appropriate gifts for your child.

5. Allow your child quiet time if necessary
If your child becomes overstimulated at a social function, help him to find a quiet spot where he can decompress. For example, if you are having visitors, have a space set aside for the child as his/her safe/calm space,” says the Autism Society. “The individual should be taught ahead of time that they should go to their space when feeling overwhelmed.”

6. Consider bringing a babysitter
If your child with special needs requires a great deal of one-on-one attention and supervision, consider bringing a babysitter who can focus on your child while you and her siblings take part in holiday activities.

7. Bring your own stuff
Feel free to bring your child’s favorite foods, toys, books or DVDs along to parties or family gatherings.  Encourage him to socialize and participate in party activities to the extent he is able, but once he’s reached his limit, let him chill out in front of a favorite DVD while you and the rest of the family parties on. Giving your child the freedom to be him or herself, will make it possible for everyone to have a more relaxed and enjoyable time.

8. Buy gifts online
Managing the mall can be a challenge at any time of year. During the holiday shopping season, it can be truly overwhelming, especially for children with special needs. Writing for The Mighty, Courtney Barnum recommends doing all your holiday shopping online. “The crowds, the noises, the lights, the smells, it’s a lot. Grocery shopping can be hard enough, but Christmas shopping is sometimes super tough,” says Barnum. “So, don’t feel guilty. If you can get it online, do it.” P.S. Don’t forget to shop Enabling Devices.com to find gifts for the special children in your life.

9. Treat yourself
As always, take care not to neglect your own needs. Buy yourself a gift, enjoy an adult’s night out, take a hot bath and perhaps most importantly, let go of perfectionism. Says Barnum of The Mighty: “The holidays are never perfect. We’re not living in a Norman Rockwell painting. All you should strive for is a peaceful and happy holiday.”

Halloween Checklist

Though Halloween is still several weeks away, chances are your children are eagerly anticipating the holiday, planning their costumes, and thinking about parties and trick-or-treating. If your child has special needs, Halloween can present some extra challenges. But none of these challenges are insurmountable. Check out these tips for a Happy Halloween!

Find the perfect costume
What child doesn’t love playing dress-up? Costumes provide children with the opportunity to pretend, fantasize and express their interests and creativity. If your child uses a wheelchair, incorporating the chair into her costume is a great way to go. Does he love NASCAR? Create a race-car from the wheelchair. Does she dream of being a princess? Turn her wheelchair into a coach. Check out Enabling Devices’ Halloween post from last year for more terrific ideas.

If your child has sensory issues, take care to choose a costume that fits comfortably and isn’t made of scratchy fabric that could spoil your child’s fun. That may mean avoiding store-bought costumes, masks, hats, face paint or other accessories that can irritate sensitive skin.

Prepare for the big day or night
Halloween is tons of fun, but it can also be kind of scary. If your child tends to become fearful or anxious, consider trick-or-treating during the day instead of at night, read books, sing songs and have discussions about what to expect during Halloween.

If your child has communication or social skills challenges, teach her what to say when neighbors answer the door, and practice how to give out candy when trick-or-treaters come to your door. If he uses a communication device, record a trick-or-treat message in time for the holiday.

Prior to Halloween, plot the route you will take when you trick-or-treat. There’s no need to take on the whole neighborhood. Even a few houses may be sufficient for your child.

 Consider dietary needs
Halloween is especially challenging for children with special diets. But how do you help your child to avoid candy and other sugary treats when trick-or-treating or attending parties at school? Autismfile.com has some good suggestions. “Stick with family and friends when selecting which homes to visit for trick-or-treating. People aware of special diet needs or unique behaviors will be prepared for you and your child,” says their website. Alternatively, you can provide your neighbors with healthy treats in advance, and they can give them to your child when he comes to their door.

Keep track of trick-or-treaters
Children on the autism spectrum can sometimes be wanderers. Make sure you or another responsible adult accompanies children when they trick-or-treat, to avoid any misadventures and ensure safety for all.

Throw a party
Having your own Halloween celebration give you more control over how the holiday plays out. Your child can choose decorations, treats, music and party activities so it’s likely that her anxiety will be a great deal more manageable. If mobility, or other physical disabilities make trick-or-treating a challenge, partying at home, where your child is comfortable, may be a great way to remove any obstacles to fun.

 Stay home if it’s right for your family
If Halloween shows up and your child isn’t in the mood, it’s OK to do Halloween “light.” Perhaps your child can have one friend over and they can watch a Halloween-themed movie and open the door for trick-or-treaters. If you sense that a successful Halloween is not in the cards this year, feel free to skip the festivities and stick with your child’s regular routine. Then, try again next year.

Seven Ways to have a Happy and Inclusive Valentine’s Day

It’s easy to dismiss Valentine’s Day as just a “Hallmark holiday,” but for many children, February 14 is a special date with great significance. Though children with profound cognitive disabilities may not be aware of the holiday, children with more moderate challenges, especially those who attend school alongside typically developing peers, are at least somewhat tuned into to the Valentine’s Day festivities. As a teacher, therapist or parent, how can you make Valentine’s Day a happy time for your child, students or clients? Here are some tips to make the kids in your life feel loved.

1.  Focus on friendship

Valentine’s Day is a great time to discuss love, friendship and kindness. Ask children to reflect on what it means to be a good friend and how we show love and kindness. Can they describe a time when they felt loved by a friend or family member?

2.  Have a love-themed story-time

Read developmentally appropriate books about love and friendship and then discuss them with your child or students. Some good choices for younger children include:  “Love Monster” by Rachel Bright, “Be a Friend” by Salina Yoon and “If You’ll be My Valentine,” by Cynthia Rylant.

3.  Adapt holiday crafts projects

Help children with special needs make Valentine’s Day cards for family members. Students with physical disabilities can use adapted art supplies including Enabling Devices’ adapted battery operated scissors, swirl art or color bug to create a card for a loved one.

4.  It’s not a popularity contest

If you’re a teacher, take precautions to ensure that every child in the class receives the same number of valentine cards. If you’re a parent and aren’t sure that your child’s teacher will be aware of this, make sure to bring it to his or her attention ahead of time.

5.  Teach social skills

Valentine’s Day is a good time to teach social skills to children with developmental delays. Social stories about Valentine’s Day or simply about friendship can help children on the autism spectrum or those who have social skills deficits for other reasons, learn how to be a good friend.

6.  Serve something for everyone

Be mindful of children’s special diets and make sure that everyone has a Valentine’s Day treat that accommodates their health needs.

7.  Plan a dance for teens with special needs

Teens with special needs desire love and romance just like typically developing peers. Back in 2015, athlete Tim Tebow and his foundation founded Night to Shine, a worldwide Valentine’s Day prom for teens with mental and physical disabilities. As Steve Helling reported in People, “For one night, people with mental and physical disabilities would be celebrated. They would walk the red carpet while dressed in tuxes and gowns. There would be hair, makeup and shoe shine stations. And, of course, there would be dancing.”

Each year since 2015, the event has grown bigger. This year, the foundation will throw 375 proms in 50 states and 11 countries. Even if there isn’t a Night to Shine prom in your neck of the woods, many schools and centers create their own Valentine’s Day dances for teens with special needs. Some dances are even designed to be sensory-friendly with attention paid to lighting and music volume. Dances offer teens with disabilities an opportunity to practice social skills, have fun, and maybe even find their valentines!

 

Holiday Greetings from Seth Kanor

Dear Friends:

It was about this time last year when I first joined Enabling Devices as the company’s CEO. My father, Dr. Steven E. Kanor, the company’s founder, had recently passed away, and I found myself rummaging around in his office. The desk was covered in notepads bursting with ideas, the drawers were stuffed with prototypes for communication devices; the bookshelves, packed with manufacturing supply catalogs; and scattered everywhere, still more prototypes for devices he thought might make somebody’s life better. There was also a lot of unopened mail, mostly from the many charities he supported: charities devoted to making somebody’s life, somewhere, better. That was his life’s mission. And standing in his office, surrounded by the very tangible evidence of that mission, I felt a duty, not only to honor his legacy, but also to move Enabling Devices ahead, embracing new technology and, as my father had always done, finding innovative ways to serve the people who use our products.

As I look back over the past year, I am pleased to report that the company is thriving. I only wish my dad could be here to see all the exciting developments that took place during 2016 and are in the works for 2017. Here are some of the highlights:

  • A new and easy to use catalog will be released in January
  • A new, accessible state-of-the-art website will launch in early spring
  • We developed new products for our sensory rooms
  • We broadened our sensory room outreach, designing spaces in centers that serve seniors
  • We are working to create more products for teens and adults
  • We are working to create more sports-oriented products

One of the best parts of my job is the time I spend visiting schools, clinics and medical facilities and meeting with the children, parents, teachers and therapists who use our products. During the meetings we have an opportunity to talk with them and learn more about what their needs are. This helps to inform our work. Based on what we hear, we can adapt our products and create new ones to better serve families, educators and therapists.

For example, on a recent visit to Pines Bridge School at BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services), one of the therapists told us that her students love playing with water. So we adapted a fan that blows mist. Using a switch, the children can control it and can enjoy feeling water on their skin whenever they like.

I am in awe of the people I have met during our visits. The passion of the occupational therapists, physical therapists and teachers who work with children with special needs is humbling. For them, the work is truly a higher calling. I’ve been similarly inspired by the families I’ve met. Parenting any child is demanding, but parenting a child with special needs demands a very special parent. And as hard as we work here at Enabling Devices, our work pales in comparison to the parents who inspire and astound us with their commitment, knowledge and grace. And the same is true for the siblings of those children with special needs.

One mother of a child with disabilities asked me if she could bring the child’s sister to meet with us. The sister, a high school student, had an idea for an app for use by people with special needs. The idea was terrific. So now this 15-year-old is working with us to make the app a reality.

There is so much talk lately about how our country is so divided. We read it in the newspaper; hear it on the radio. But that’s not what we see when we’re out in the community. We see people coming together for the well-being of others. I can’t tell you how proud it makes me to be even a small part of that communal effort.

And so all of us at Enabling Devices would like to thank you for letting us be a part of your lives, however small, and we want to wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday season. We look forward to serving you in the coming year.

Warmly,

Seth Kanor

 

Choose the Perfect Gift!

Ready for the holidays? If you haven’t completed your Christmas or Hanukkah shopping, there’s no need to panic. Enabling Devices will help you choose the perfect gifts and get them to you in the (Saint) Nick of time!

Not sure how to go about choosing a gift for that special someone? The Enabling Devices sales team is happy to help. We asked team members for their best advice on gift selection and here’s what they had to say.

1. Starting points

Before beginning the gift selection process, our sales staff recommends answering the following questions: What does the child enjoy doing? Does she like using her iPad? Is he a board-game lover? Perhaps she enjoys sensory stimulation. If purchasing a gift for a child who’s not well known to you, ask his parents what he might like. On a budget? Our new gift guide includes toys under $50.

2. Gifts to use with others

#737 Hungry Hippo
#737

Adapted board games mean that everyone can play. Enabling Devices has a wide selection of adapted games such as Hungry Hippo (#731), Hi Ho Cherry-O (#941), Tic Tac Toe (#949) and Bingo (4051). Great for family game night, play dates and in the classroom. Game playing builds social skills, and provides practice with turn taking, listening and following directions.

3. New offerings

At Enabling Devices we are always coming up with new products and improving the ones we’ve already invented or adapted. This holiday season we’re proud to bring you the following new items:

#4057 Charley Chameleon
#4057

Charley Chameleon (#4057) A perennial favorite, this newly adapted toy has three different lighting and sound options. When users push the switch once, they’ll hear rain forest sounds and watch soft lights slowly transition between colors. Press again, to hear tropical tunes and colored lights change quickly. Activate your switch a third time and lights shine without sound.  Charley can be used with or without a switch.

LED Color Changing Balls (#9222) Purchase a set of three balls at a great price. These waterproof balls changes hue and color as your child watches. They’re great for a sensory space.

Remote Controlled Bubble Tube(#2229) This mesmerizing toy features colors, light patterns and moving bubbles that can be changed with its remote control. Depending on the needs of the user, the bubble tube can promote relaxation or stimulation. This toy encourages visual development and perception, color recognition and communication. It’s a terrific addition to your sensory space.

#465 Tail Light Switch
#465

4. Toys for children with visual impairment

Tail Light Switch(#465) Highly recommended by the sales staff, this toy is brightly colored, has great texture and also plays music.

Activity Center #520 Another bestseller and especially adapted for the visually impaired, this toy allows the user to enjoy several different tactile experiences and is also an AM/FM radio!

5. Gifts for teens and adults

#4550 Lighted Musical Tunes
#4550

Lighted Musical Tunes (#4550) Geared for the more mature listener, this device plays six songs, vibrates and creates a multisensory experience.

Music Jam Playmat #2131 This touch-sensitive mat plays the music of five instruments and also attaches to your iPhone or musical device

Magical Light Show #1672 Geared to teens and adults, this device plays upbeat music while offering a dazzling light show.

Infinity Mirror #1683 Press this amazing gadget’s built-in switch and experience a fantastical optical illusion of an infinite tunnel of light. Multicolored LEDs flicker while music plays. The Infinity Mirror’s visual effects also help to teach cause and effect.

Mini UV Mirror Bead Chain #3109 The look and feel of this colorful bead chain is enhanced by colorful ultraviolet LED lights and musical accompaniment.

More questions? We’re here to help. Visit our website or call 1-800-832-8697.

 

Eight Ways to Minimize Holiday Season Stress

Image of holiday stress

It’s back! America’s holiday season—a time for family, feasting, parties, shopping, gift-giving and a break from regular routines such as work, school, and extra-curricular activities. While most of us look forward to the holiday season, there’s no question that it can be stressful. Holiday stress may be compounded for families with children with disabilities. Yet, with some careful planning, you can minimize the stress and maximize the joy of the holiday season. Here are some of the best strategies:

1. Pace yourself

Holiday season is chock full of parties, family events, school concerts, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanza and New Year’s get-togethers. While you may feel pressure to participate in all of them, resist the urge to do too much. All children, but especially those who are young or have special needs may become easily overwhelmed, over-tired and over-stimulated by large crowds of people, loud noise and blinking lights associated with holiday season, so choose family activities carefully, and approach the activities you do select planfully.

2. Have an escape route

Be prepared in case a family outing doesn’t pan out as you had planned. One Friendship Circle blogger who is the parent of a special needs child says that she and her husband bring two cars when they go places with their kids so “one of us can leave if our child with special needs is acting up. This way our other children can remain (if they wish), and our child with special needs can go home where he feels more comfortable.”

Likewise, when attending a party or special event, scope out a quiet place where you can take your child if she becomes over-stimulated or upset and needs to decompress.

3. Prep relatives and friends for their visit with your child

Friends and family members who don’t know your child well or haven’t seen him for a while may benefit from a briefing about your child’s special interests, food and gift preferences, sensory sensitivities, etc. After all, giving old Aunt Gertie the heads up that her great nephew dislikes hugs and strong perfume can go a long way toward a successful visit!

4. Prep your child for holiday activities and social occasions

Before you take your child to a party, performance or other event, spend some time preparing her for what she can expect there. For example, the folks at Living Well With a Disability recommend parents “introduce” their children to invited guests before gatherings. “Show your child pictures of relatives and friends before the party starts. Remind children if they have met the guests before and explain their relationship.” Living Well also suggests role-playing social behaviors prior to social events. “Practice how to receive a gift, how to thank the giver and how to greet guests at the door.”

5. Bring a “care package”

Don’t hesitate to bring your child’s favorite foods, toys, books or DVDs along to parties or family gatherings. If she’s had enough socializing but you’re not ready to leave, encourage her to do her thing, while you and the rest of the family enjoy the company and activities at the event. That way, everyone can enjoy himself or herself.

6. Seek holiday events designed for children with special needs

As awareness of sensory processing disorders has increased, many entertainment venues, museums and stores now offer performances and activities adapted for children with sensory sensitivities. For instance, Autism Speaks has partnered with Noerr Programs Corporation to offer “Sensory Friendly Santa” programs across the country. The autism society has partnered with AMC movie theaters to offer sensory-friendly films four times a month at its theaters across the country, and the Theatre Development Fund’s Autism Theatre Initiative offers sensory friendly Broadway shows. Don’t live in New York City? No problem! Nowadays, you can find sensory-friendly performances nearby, no matter where you live.

7. Shop online

For those of us who detest crowds, long lines and traffic jams, online shopping is a holiday blessing. No need to drag your special needs child to the mall anymore. No need to waste time in stores looking for toys adapted for children with physical disabilities or those for children with sensory processing disorders either. This season, shop Enabling Devices.com to find gifts for the special children in your life.

8. Give yourself a break

Self-care is crucially important, especially during the busy holiday season. So don’t skimp on babysitters, and take friends and family members up on their offers to chip in with carpooling, shopping and errands. Happy holidays!

Seven Tips for An Accessible and Happy Halloween

Photo of child in wheelchair dressed as a knight

It’s the rare child who doesn’t look forward to celebrating Halloween. Children with disabilities are no exception. Depending on the issues presented by your child’s disability you may need to come up with some creative ideas to make the most of the holiday. We’ve surfed the web to find the best advice for making your Halloween fun and accessible.

1. Be creative!

Now six years old, Elena Walke, daughter of Easter Seal’s blogger, Bernhard Walke, was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. As a very little girl, Elena was unable to sit up on her own. That didn’t prevent her father and mother from making sure Elena celebrated Halloween in style. Since Elena needed to be held, her parents dressed up as chefs, and carried Elena, who was wearing a bright red lobster costume, around the neighborhood in a giant pot!

2. Incorporate the wheelchair

If your child uses a wheelchair, make it an important part of his costume. Cinderellas can ride door to door in beautifully decorated coaches, and Batmans’ wheelchairs can be transformed into bat-mobiles! For more great ideas on wheelchair decorating, visit Magic Wheelchair.com a nonprofit started by Ryan and Lana Weimer, parents of five children, three of whom have spinal muscular atrophy.

3. Make the costume comfortable

If your child has sensory integration issues, be sure that the costume she wears doesn’t have tags, seams or a texture that irritates her skin. Likewise, make-up or masks may be too uncomfortable for those who are sensitive. Easter Seals, N.J. recommends using “long popsicle sticks and construction paper to create handheld masks of your favorite characters.” Don’t forget to have your child try on her costume prior to Halloween night. This way, if the costume is uncomfortable, you’ll have time to make any necessary alterations.

4. Make the most of your child’s special interest

Children on the autism spectrum are often hyper-focused on one particular topic. Be it a Disney character, a superhero, or an inanimate object, Halloween is an ideal opportunity to let your child go to town, creating a costume that reflects what he loves. For examples of awesome Halloween costumes that were created to reflect the obsessions of children on the autism spectrum, visit The Mighty.

5. Prepare your child for what she may encounter

Halloween can be scary! If your child is fearful or has trouble adapting to the unexpected, make sure to talk with him about anything that might be upsetting to him and devise a game plan for how you will handle it should an especially ghoulish creature come around the corner. If your child is simply too frightened or over-stimulated by the Halloween action, don’t insist he trick-or-treats. Have a Halloween celebration at home, and if he is willing, let him answer the door for other trick-or-treaters. Then try again next year.

6. Plan for any dietary restrictions

Some children with special needs aren’t able to partake in the treats typically distributed on Halloween. Make sure your child doesn’t feel deprived by having some of her favorite goodies on hand. You may also decide to make an exception to your child’s special diet on Halloween.

7. Get your child’s service dog in on the fun

If your child has a service dog, it can be a wonderful accessory that will make him the envy of other trick-or-treaters. Ramona Taylor, writing for United Cerebral Palsy’s blog, My Child Without Limits makes the following suggestion: “Your child could be a circus performer and their dog can be their very well trained lion.” When dressing up your service dog, take precautions to ensure that the dog isn’t uncomfortable.