Halloween remains an extremely popular celebration across our society, and as the nights get shorter and we begin to see pumpkins stocked in our local supermarkets, we all know Halloween is quickly approaching! Amidst the costumes, decorations, and activities of the autumnal holiday, it is important to recognise that there are challenges to overcome in promoting inclusivity and de-stigmatising common tropes.
Mental health-related Halloween tropes have become normalised across society, such as straitjacket costumes and asylum patients. It’s important to recognise that these tropes have the potential to be extremely damaging, implying that people struggling with complex mental illnesses are “scary”.
Children who struggle with sensory processing challenges may find Halloween to be overwhelming and confusing. As a result, it’s important that special measures are taken to plan accordingly, creating a set of activities which are the best fit for the child. The most important aspect to consider is the costume, as anything which could inhibit the sight or breathing capabilities of a child could be problematic. Simple, minimal costumes are probably the best bet for this, ensuring the child is comfortable.
Whilst blue pumpkins aren’t associated with any kind of organisation, families of children with ASD have begun using them to convey that their child may struggle with some elements of Halloween due to Autism. If you do hand sweets or chocolates to a child with a blue pumpkin, remember that some children don’t communicate verbally, struggle understanding facial reactions and may not say thank you.
Explore BehaviourWatch’s introductory guide for special education needs by clicking here.