Is Trick-Or-Treating A Good Idea For Children With Special Needs?

Author of 4 books, podcaster, parent trainer, wife and mother.

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Tonight, millions of children, dressed from Frozen characters to famous athletes, will take to neighborhood streets all across the nation for trick-or-treat. This year, however, there may be a healthier alternative to the sweets and treats they'll bring home.

If you know me, you know I love a good costume! In fact, I’ve been known to plan a year in advance. I just love to get my hands into some craft supplies! Every year for a decade, on trick or treat night, our family has hosted a Costume Party. The planning goes on for weeks, signature drinks for the adults, spooky snacks and a costume contest. We’ve never missed a year. Not even the time our foster daughter had her g-tube placed.

The ring tailed lemur
$4 long sleeve shirt, hand-me-down sweats, $1 felt, $2 decorative craft piping, hot glue,
Total cost = $7 and 8 burned fingers.

I’m not really a Pinterest mom. Believe me, this is not a post about one-uping the ladies from the PTA. Who am I kidding? I’m not on the PTA. I’m a little more like one of those “Pinterest Gone Wrong” bits you find floating around Facebook. The ones that keep me up at night giggling while my responsible husband is trying to get some sleep.

This year has been a little different though. I’m feeling overwhelmed with food allergies, behavioral issues and a revised budget.  Our 5th grader has a severe reaction to red 40, yellow5 and high fructose corn syrup. He also has issues with impulse control. With his teenage years lurking around the corner he now has embarrassment over anything that makes him feel different. This time of year, which has always brought such joy, is now filled with anxiety.

We cancelled our annual party for fear that someone might bring candy containing allergens into our house. Instead of the typical buzz of excitement our family has been locked firmly in a no-win debate about Trick-or-Treat. Should we all participate and risk the exposure to allergens? Should we abstain and sit inside in the dark? Should we create an alternate activity? The uncertainty over what to do left me feeling paralyzed.

Vampire Bat
$2.70 felt, $7 sweatshirt, his own pants, hot glue.
Total cost = $9.70 and a few more burned fingers (but they are already numb from the last costume)

In our home, the costumes are typically ready to wear by October 1st. Until last night, I hadn’t even touched the pinking shearers.  As I was sorting through my youngest son’s back pack Wednesday afternoon, I found the crumpled up reminder that I had signed up for the Costume Party…THIS THURSDAY! What was I thinking?!  I stopped panicking and started creating. I was up till midnight hot gluing my fingers together the lemur tail and vampire-bat ears. I stayed up long past everyone was asleep and the house was peaceful, giving me plenty of time to think.

My Frugal Favorite
The Ghost!
Total Cost = $0 (and a heart full of pride for the child who wanted to wear a bed sheet)

I began to ask myself, “Why am I so sad about skipping out this year?”

Then I remembered, It’s the crispness in the air, the crunching of leaves. The nostalgic excitement I feel as my children wriggle into their costumes. The thrill of pretending to be something else, for just one night. Embracing the magical, scary, beautiful or daring. Most of all, It’s the sense of community. Neighbors who only nod to one another in passing are now gathered on the sidewalk swapping stories and taking pictures of their little ones as they race door to door. It’s the warmth I feel in my heart as our local fire fighters take time to great children as they make their way through our town. It’s the pride I feel in living where I do.

Tonight I’m going to talk about all of this with my pre-teen son. I know he doesn’t want to miss out either. We are going to make a compromise.

My son and his big sisters painting our Teal Pumpkin!
My son painting our Teal Pumpkin with a little help from his awesome big sisters!

Last week my sister-in-law sent me a link to the FARE Teal Pumpkin Project. Check it out by clicking here. With the help of our pre-teen son, we will be painting a teal pumpkin to place in front of our house. This will be a sign to other families that a non-food treat is available. It’s a way for us to empower him to be a part of Trick or Treat. I know he still won’t enjoy feeling different but this is a way for him to use uniqueness to help others like him to have a safe place to trick-or-treat.

Are you participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, or using a different Trick-Or-Treat alternative? Share your story with us!

Teal Pumpkin Project
Click The Picture To Learn More!

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.