For parents and adults
How to make Halloween extra safe and inclusive during COVID-19
At Holland Bloorview, we recognize that the rise in COVID cases in our city and province will affect Halloween activities this year. While the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) and Ontario’s top doctor have advised against trick-or-treating, it doesn’t mean you have to fully skip out on some spooky fun.
Whether your neighbourhood or community is allowing door-to-door activities, or you and your kids choose to stay at home, we hope these suggestions will help you have a safe and inclusive Halloween.
Need to Stay at Home Because of Your Child’s Health?
Ultimately, for many families of kids who are immunocompromised, staying home will be the best decision for this holiday season. Here are some suggestions to get creative right at home, this Halloween:
If you’re not trick-or-treating this year, that doesn’t mean goodies can’t be a part of your spooky season. This year, why not try hiding candy or treats throughout your home (similar to an Easter Egg hunt) for your child to find.
Who said Halloween had to be completely terrifying? Get into the spooky spirit and put on some family-friendly movies for kids of all ages like “Halloweentown,” “Hocus Pocus,” “Hotel Transylvania,” and “Casper.” You can also have a virtual movie night with friends by using ZOOM or apps like Netflix Party.
If you’re not comfortable leaving your home this year, consider hosting a party over ZOOM with your child’s friends. Have participants dress up in costume and do fun activities over the screen like charades or guessing games to make sure everyone feels included.
Turn each door in your house into a neighbourhood! Decorate each door in your house as if it was a different neighbour. Keep it simple and just hand out treats at each stop, or spice things up by transforming trick-or-treating into activities like having your child answer some riddles or a game to win a prize/treat. Kids should wear their costume and parents as well.
Run, walk, or roll for a cause! Participate in the virtual Monster Dash 2020. Choose whether you want to do 5k, 10k, or a Spooky Mile for the kids. The race will start and end at your house and proceeds will go to Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Find more information at the Monster Dash website.
But What If Your Community is Still Trick-or-Treating?
If your community is still participating in trick-or-treating activities, wear a mask and keep hand sanitizer close at hand. Instead of having children ring the doorbell; prop the door open and sit in the doorway; or stand out on the front step or the driveway. You can put individual pieces of candy out on a small table and have the kids take it, instead of displaying it in a big bowl and having everyone put their hands in it. Or use a small scooper or tongs to give out treats.
If a Trick-or-Treater with Disabilities Comes to Your Neighbourhood
While it’s polite to say please and thank you, not every child’s language skills are fully developed. Or speaking may not be a child’s focus. He or she may be practicing walking, being social with other children, or focused on increased mobility to do things like grab a treat or ring the doorbell. A little understanding and patience goes a long way.
Some kids with disabilities have allergies, while others are unable to consume food orally. Consider having non-food treats in your basket so all kids can enjoy the holiday. That could be stickers, small toys or something similar. Having options maximizes inclusion on such a big day.
If you decorate your doorway with spooky or loud objects, they might be scary for kids who struggle with sensory input. You can still be festive, but take this into account when you’re decorating your door or front yard. And make sure the location where you hand out treats is well-lit. This helps trick-or-treaters who have vision challenges.
Things to Consider if your Child has a Disability or is Immunocompromised:
If you’re worried about groups of kids, make your child’s mask part of their costume! Glue pieces of felt or fabric to match the costume. Make sure that the decorations do not cover the nose/mouth area which could potentially restrict your child’s breathing.
Costumes can have elements that make them difficult for kids with disabilities to enjoy. Try to avoid itchy fabric, multiple layers or confusing costumes that are difficult to get on and off. Do a trial run and avoid discovering that it’s uncomfortable or cumbersome on the big day/night.
Kids with disabilities are sometimes more comfortable with a schedule or routine, especially if it’s planned ahead of time. Plan out time to put on costumes and take photos and go over itineraries and routes!
Trick-or- treating may be a brand new activity for some kids with disabilities. They might be exposed to things that might scare them, like haunted houses, or scary masks and noises. Go over what they might encounter and practice self-calming skills in case they get frightened. If your child is non-verbal, they can program their communication device to say “Trick or treat!” or maybe create a picture symbol to use as he or she goes door to door.