Haunted By Halloween
Riddle: What's the difference between Halloween and a vampire?
Answer: There is none - they both suck!
Many families, especially those not impacted with disability, might puzzle at this riddle. But I suspect there are parents reading this article who "get" my dumb joke because they know exactly what I'm talking about - Halloween is really rough on families with children with disabilities.
First of all, costumes and candy are out in the stores before school even starts in August! Kids begin obsessing about what they want to be, begging to get their costume and wear it every day -- in September! If you insist that they wait to buy the costume until October, they get anxious about them selling out (not necessarily an unfounded worry).
Then there are the decorations. Our rule was we didn't put them up until after October 1st. And of course, the more elaborate, gross and scary the better. Small children wouldn't trick-or-treat at our house because it was just too creepy.
In the days leading up to Halloween, expectations run wild - as do our children's anxiety (and, honestly, ours too). Will they be invited to trick-or-treat with the neighborhood gang? Will they be included in the cool kids' Halloween parties? What if they get left out?
On the actual holiday, all this build-up and excitement gets super-charged by the large amounts of sugary treats they consume. Let's just say that no scary movie could hold a candle to what would go down in our house in the hours following the crash from the Halloween booty sugar-high.
Some kids are amenable to handing out the candy at your door. They can still wear their costume! I was successful doing this with my son as long as I promised to provide him with candy :)
You probably have your own harrowing Halloween stories. Maybe your child with sensory-processing disorder becomes dysregulated from their itchy costume. Maybe your child has nut allergies that infuse the entire trick-or-treat experience with anxiety. Maybe you are struggling to design a clever costume around a wheel-chair. Maybe your anxious child gets freaked-out by all that blood and gore. Maybe, right this minute, your lonely child is fretting about not having anyone to go trick-or-treating with.
I wish I had easy answers to all these difficulties.
One good idea --
Connect with others on the CASE Parent Connections Facebook Page. CASE families are planning trick-or-treating meet-ups around Evanston
- a perfect way to ensure that your trick-or-treater has a fun gang of kids and parents with which to go around town. Who knows...perhaps they will make a new friend that night. Now that would be spooktacular!
I hope you find the information in this newsletter helpful.
Cari Levin, LCSW
Founding Executive Director