Halloween During COVID-19: Maintaining an Inclusive Experience

Dana Cappel, occupational therapist 24, October 2020

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inflatable pumpkins on a lawn

With all the restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Halloween celebrations will look quite different this year. Parties seem irresponsible given the emphasis on social distancing and the restrictions on gatherings and trick-or-treating may even be banned in your city. While you may never have given a thought to letting a lot of little hands dip into your treat bowl in the past, this year you may be thinking twice about it given the risk of contamination and you may be reconsidering handing out candy.

All is not lost, however, and with a little creativity, we can still create a fun Halloween experience for all kids.

Accessible Trick-or-Treating

If trick-or-treating is allowed in your area, please remember to create an inclusive experience for the families in your neighborhood. Remove any barriers to the front door, or make sure your treat bowls are located in a place that all kids and parents can reach, including those that use mobility devices.


lawn sign

Lawn signs used in the Treat Accessibly campaign


Visit www.treataccessibly.com to read about this wonderful initiative started by a Toronto family wanting to ensure that their neighbors could experience trick-or-treating without having to navigate obstacles at their home. Signs are available at Re/Max locations throughout the US and Canada and select Home Depot locations in Canada.

Accessible Costumes

Whether your community is allowing trick-or-treating or is planning a neighborhood costume parade, or even if you are just dressing up at home, there is still time to cook up an awesome costume for your kids. For children that use mobility devices, dressing up can be a frustrating experience as the costumes often get covered up or hidden by the device. For the last few years, we have been holding a costume make-a-thon in which design school volunteers pair up with families of children with disabilities. Together they create fun costume designs that the children can show off with pride. It has been a huge success and has since become an annual event, helping more children each year.



Take a look at the post from our 2019 “Making Costume Dreams Come True” event for inspiration and ideas.

If you don’t have time to make your own costume, there may still be time to order something from Target’s line of adaptive costumes with sensory-friendly features, designs that are easier to put on, and accessories for mobility devices.  We love to see that these ideas are becoming part of the mainstream!


wheelchair with acessories

Halloween accessories for a wheelchair in the Target catalogue


Halloween from Home

Some families may be playing it safe this year and staying home. Kids can still have fun decorating the house, making spooky treats and playing fun Halloween games. An easy way to adapt games for kids with disabilities is by using digital dice. IssieDice is an accessible customizable dice app, developed by The Technology Center at Beit Issie Shapiro, together with volunteers from SAP Labs, Israel. Use it to create dice for your favorite Halloween games.


pumpkin on a die

Halloween-themed dice using IssieDice


With Zoom and other platforms now part of our daily lives, a virtual party doesn’t seem like such a strange idea. There are many websites out there offering up virtual ideas for a kids’ Halloween party, from costume contests, to mask decorating, to Halloween Bingo.

Here are a few sites to look at.


child in costume

From merakilane.com


girl in costume holding a tablet

From indywithkids.com


Whatever you do, make sure your Halloween festivities are inclusive. If your child or one of their friends needs communication supports make sure to include them so everyone can participate in the fun. Using symbols to support communication and participation in activities can be great for anyone that has trouble understanding what is being said or have trouble expressing themselves. If the child uses Grid, the Smartbox Online Grids community has a whole bunch of really great grids for Halloween including communication boards and ones for telling jokes and playing games.


samples of Halloween grids

Samples of Halloween grids from Grid Online

If you don’t have access to Grid software there are a few sites that offer free access to symbols. Here is one called Open Symbols.

However you are celebrating this year, have a happy, healthy and inclusive Halloween!

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