Thinking of Inclusion This Halloween

By October 27, 2015Experiencing Inclusion

Even as an adult, I always love Halloween. Delicious candy, carving Jack-o-Lanterns, frighteningly fun haunted houses, and the hilariously crazy costumes just scratch the surface of all that Halloween has to offer. Every year, I always have so much fun reminiscing about the unique costumes I’ve worn in the past– my favorites were the year my mom was mom of the year and sewed me a hand-made cow costume and the year she encouraged me to make my own and my “butterfly” costume was a total dud. (Thanks, mom.) My sister and I always had so much fun sifting through the Halloween costume catalogs to get ideas for how we would make our costumes that year. Every year, without fail, it was miserably cold in Connecticut on Halloween, so we had to bundle up, anyway, but it was always a blast preparing for the evening.

As I have been working as a special educator and on the blog team for KIT, I have become much more aware of how things that give me great excitement may give others intense anxiety. (For example, check out last week’s amazing post by the lovely Deborah, which included memoirs about dealing with new social situations in college while battling with OCD.) Halloween is a holiday which could lead to a lot of frustration and feelings of exclusion for children with disabilities and their families. I have been so proud to see some amazing accommodations used to make this holiday enjoyable for everyone. (If you haven’t come across them already, you really should ooh and ah over cutie Simeon’s wheel chair-friendly incredible costumes like this, designed by Mary Evelyn of What Do You Do, Dear?) People are becoming more and more sensitive to dietary restrictions of some kiddos with disabilities, and they are providing various options so no child feels left out. But as usual, there’s always more that we can be doing to be more inclusive. I came across the following little saying, and I LOVE it– I plan on posting all over my personal networks on Saturday, so I figured I’d share it with you all a few days early so you can do the same (if you feel so inclined). Happy Halloween, stay safe, and have fun!

Tonight a lot of creatures will visit your door. Be open-minded. The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy might have poor fine motor skills. The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy might have motor planning issues. The child who does not say “trick or treat” or “thank you” might be painfully shy, non-verbal, or selectively mute. If you cannot understand their words, they may struggle with developmental apraxia of speech. They are thankful in their hearts and minds. The child who looks disappointed when he sees your bowl might have a life-threatening allergy. The child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have SPD or autism. Be kind, be patient, smile, pretend you understand. It’s everyone’s Halloween.

— Written by Elise Hopkins, KIT staff.

Kids Included Together (KIT) is a non-profit located in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC. We help make the world a more inclusive place by providing live and online training to people who work with kids. We teach strategies, accommodations and best practices to include kids with and without disabilities in before & after school programs. Inclusive environments create stronger communities. Learn more about our work at www.KITonline.org.

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