Halloween isn’t that scary

Published 11:03 am Monday, October 3, 2016

October can be one of the most difficult months for special needs kids. Halloween may only be one night, but between school and community events, Halloween seems to begin the moment we flip the calendar. Rather than resist the madness, embrace it.

One activity we did in P3, a support group for special needs parents, was for kids who had been bullied or were self-conscious about their physical appearance. In order to do it, you must find the most unusual, possibly misshapen pumpkin that you can as well as a seemingly “perfect” one.

Begin by cutting into the unique pumpkin and cleaning it out. Explain to the child that God likes to do to us what we are doing to the pumpkin – scoop out all the messiness that is inside.  As you carve a face into the pumpkin talk to your child about how people can say and do hurtful things. Sometimes people hurt us so much it feels as though they are carving directly on our hearts. Next, place the candle inside the newly carved jack-o-lantern telling your child that God puts His light in us.  Lastly, compare the uncarved, unlit “perfect” pumpkin to the beautiful glowing one. It’s easy to see that no matter how pretty we are on the outside it’s the glowing light inside us that truly illuminates our beauty.

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That activity is a great way to break into a season that frequently makes the out-of-sync kid feel even more self-conscious.  It gets them focused more on what is right inside them rather than what others may perceive to “wrong” with them. And any bit of self-confidence you can drop into these kids or have them looking at themselves more positively will create a very good and long lasting effect.

One of the chief complaints on Halloween is from sensory kids who can’t stand wearing a mask or itchy costume. So, just don’t make them. Smaller kids or those with mobility issues can benefit from turning a wagon or wheelchair into the costume, allowing them to wear what they want. For my son, DJ, one year I turned his wagon into Thomas the Tank Engine by creatively placing colored cardboard all around it. That made his costume consist of only a hat.

Older kids can wear a comfy black sweat suit that the two of you design together. Print bones from the internet and attach to it to easily become a skeleton. If you want to be more creative purchase an inexpensive Styrofoam planet kit in the craft department of major stores. Paint the balls and hot glue them to the suit and transform into the solar system.

Maybe your child wants to dress up and hand out candy at home. The most important thing is to throw tradition to the wind and do what is comfortable and fun for your child. The moment you do that, you change scary October into a month to look forward to.

Visit www.theJoanZone.com all month long for more fun ideas.