“What if they fall on the stairs?” “What if their costume trips them?” These are a couple of the common questions that parents have when they are first introducing trick-or-treating to their child who has a visual impairment.
Yes, Halloween night may be scary, but that should only be from the decorations, not your from your fears of what might happen.
Trick-or-treating with a child who is visually impaired should not only be fun, but it should also be a great learning opportunity.
Choosing a Costume
Choosing a costume is a great opportunity for your child to show autonomy and be independent. Let them pick something they n be excited about, as long as it doesn’t violate any family rules for appropriateness.
It may be wise for children with low vision to skip out on masks in favor of some face paint. But if you can make it work for them, then try. Sometimes using flashlights or lanterns can help vision by increasing the lighting.
If your child has any sensory issues, try the costume on before Halloween night. Costumes can sometimes be itchy or scratchy. Or maybe they just feel weird. Either way, you don’t want to make this discovery on the big day, after you’ve walked several blocks from home.
Having Fun While Staying Safe
The point of Halloween is to have fun! But getting injured or having an accident can take away from the enjoyment of the evening. That’s why it’s important to observe a few safety tips.
If your child has a costume that includes footwear, long hems, or pants with stirrup straps, have them walk around inside (before going out) to see if any of these things present a tripping hazard. Long scarfs can also slip down and get tangled up around your feet, so consider that, too. If anything looks like it’s too long or slipping out of place, make some alterations to secure or adjust these accessories.
Decide ahead of time who is going to accompany your child. If they are younger, it will most likely be you. If they are teens, they may want to go out with a group of friends or siblings on their own. Use your best judgment and make sure that whoever they go with is aware of any special needs and can handle an emergency.
Consider skipping streets that have uneven sidewalks, road construction, or are generally not well maintained. Neighborhoods with well kept, even sidewalks will make the trip from house to house less stressful.
Embracing a Learning Opportunity
Trick-or-treating is a fun way to practice navigating the community. It may be helpful to practice walking your route a few days ahead, to give your child time to learn the terrain.
Talk through the process of using their cane or sensory information to evaluate the environment. Listen for traffic patterns and discuss how they will be different on Halloween night. You can also use your own front door to practice knocking, listening, and responding appropriately when the door opens.
If you have supplies to make a tactile map of your route, do that together and let your child memorize it at home before the big day. Another way to practice routes is to plug in a destination and walk with your phone’s GPS on. This gives an auditory label to each intersection where you plan to turn.
No matter what your plans are for the evening, ILA wants to wish you a Happy Halloween!