Children, and many adults, look forward to Halloween with great anticipation. Bags full of sugary treats, scary decorations, and the thrill of trick or treating with friends and family: what could be more fun? But what do you do for Halloween when your loved one has Prader-Willi syndrome? Can they safely participate in the festivities? The answer is, "Yes - with planning."
For some kids, trick-or-treating can cause anxiety (and subsequent meltdowns), even with proper planning. If that is the case with your child, consider these other fun Halloween activities:
- Plan your own costume party so you can control the menu
- Consider giving your candy to the "Switch Witch" in exchange for toys (more information below)
- Consider having your child dress up to help pass out treats at your door
- Remember, treats do not have to be food. Consider passing out trinkets, glow sticks, or even spooky stickers. Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project
- Carve or paint pumpkins
- Go on a hay ride
- Watch Halloween movies
If trick-or-treating is appropriate for your child, taking some time to prepare in advance will make it more enjoyable for everyone.
- Plan costumes and masks carefully, taking into consideration any sensory needs your child has
- It takes a little planning ahead, but some parents and caregivers have found it helpful to deliver non-food treats to neighborhood homes before Halloween. An attached note describes PWS and requests neighbors hand out the provided treat to the child with PWS when he or she visits the neighbor’s home for trick-or-treating
- If comfortable, make and discuss rules regarding candy collection, consumption, and disposal
- Determine ahead of time how many houses you will visit and tell your child. Consider doing a practice walk-through a few days before Halloween
- Discuss all the possible scenarios: A large spider or skeleton in a neighbor’s yard might move, the person who opens a neighbor’s door might be wearing a costume, other children might be wearing scary costumes, or there might be scary music playing. Talking about “scary” things ahead of time can help alleviate anxiety, making the holiday more enjoyable for everyone
- When trick-or-treating, give a treat to the person opening the door rather than taking one
No matter how you choose to celebrate Halloween this year, we wish you a safe and happy one!