Halloween is almost two weeks away, and while the holiday filled with costumes, decorations and candy may be exciting for many children, it can be overwhelming for others.
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, 5 to 15% of children have difficulties with sensory processing, making it hard to interpret and respond to some sights, sounds, tastes, touch and movements.
Halloween is a holiday that involves all of these senses, and the special occasion may require more care for those with sensory issues. Cameron Corbet with Northwest Health Services, said the agency is planning a sensory-friendly, inclusive trunk or treat to provide these children with a fun opportunity.
“Anybody can come by,” Corbet said. “We’re just asking no scary costumes, no masks, but feel free to dress up and come. We’re going to have staff on site to kind of help look at that and help people make the right decisions, but it’s just a fun, family-friendly event people can come to and not feel judged.”
The event is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, at 2303 Village Drive. While the event is being offered to the community, some families may still want to take their children to more Halloween events like trick-or-treating.
The AOTA suggests preparing children with sensory difficulties prior to the event.
“Many Halloween traditions clash with established rules, like taking candy from strangers,” the association suggests. “To help your child understand what Halloween is, and is not, review your values and establish rules and boundaries.”
The association also suggests finding costumes that will not overwhelm children with texture, size or mobility. Those children with facial sensitivities should avoid face makeup or masks.
Finally, the AOTA suggests trick-or-treating in quiet areas, maybe even going to homes of friends and family to decrease anxiety. Skip homes with flashing lights, loud noises and scary decorations.
For those handing out candy, being aware of children’s needs and practicing patience as they process their surroundings can make a big difference for their holiday.
“So if they’re younger, and they’re with their parents and (the) kid’s having a tough time at your doorstep, just let the parents kind of take the lead or just ask the parents, ‘Can I help with something,’” Corbet suggested. “If a kid’s having trouble at your doorstep, you can take a step back, let them work through it on their own and just kind of be there in the moment.”