How to Make Halloween More Inclusive

Jackie Babiarz avatar

by Jackie Babiarz |

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Halloween should be fun and not stressful. However, for many years it was neither fun for us nor stress-free.

My daughter, Cammy, has Rett syndrome, and we were faced with how to deal with a child with special needs at Halloween. Cammy, who is in a wheelchair, is unable to get up the stairs to a front door, knock, and say, “Trick or treat,” or to reach out for a piece of candy. So, her younger sister, Ryan, used to politely ask for an extra piece of candy while I waved and pointed to Cammy from the bottom of the driveway so the person at the door would know Ryan wasn’t trying to scam an extra piece for herself.

Sometimes, it has been too cold and miserable for Cammy to go out. And we often had to keep candy on hand for Cammy at home because she was unable to eat anything she got in her Halloween stash.

It wasn’t the magical Halloween experience I had as a child.

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But years ago, I was determined to make my favorite holiday work for Cammy. If the Teal Pumpkin Project could figure out a simple way to make Halloween safer and inclusive for children with food allergies, I knew I could do something for my daughter with Rett syndrome.

So, I wrote a poem with a message that asked people to come out of their homes on Halloween to greet children like Cammy and others who had special needs.

special needs at Halloween | Rett Syndrome News | A copy of a flyer that Jacqueline Babiarz made to make her neighbors aware of her daughter with Rett syndrome during Halloween

Jacqueline Babiarz

Jacqueline Babiarz circulates a flyer around her community to inform neighbors about her daughter Cammy’s special needs. (Courtesy of Jacqueline Babiarz)

We post the poem every year on social media and have printed it off as a flyer that we put in mailboxes a week before Halloween.

We have been doing this for five years now and our community has responded so wonderfully. Several friends drop off bags of candy on our doorstep that contain only Cammy’s favorites. Some neighbors have a bag they have set aside just for Cammy when we come around. When bad weather has prevented Cammy from going out, friends have exchanged candy with her when she greets them at the door. All of this has completely remade the holiday for our daughter and our family.

 

special needs at Halloween | Rett Syndrome News | Columnist Jacqueline Babiarz and her family, husband, Billy, and children, Ryan and Cammy, are dressed up as Santa, a leprechaun, the Easter Bunny and tooth fairy for Halloween.

Photo by Joanne Kier

The Babiarz family dress up as the “I Exist Support Group” for Halloween in 2015. Clockwise from back left, Billy Babiarz is a leprechaun, Jacqueline Babiarz is Santa Claus, Cammy Babiarz is the tooth fairy, and Ryan Babiarz is the Easter Bunny. (Courtesy of Jacqueline Babiarz)

 

I believe making efforts like these can help anyone who might not be able to go trick-or-treating have a fun and enjoyable Halloween. If someone is unable to approach a front door, the person at home can go down the walkway or the driveway to meet them, kneel down to say hello to them, and offer to help them get a treat. If the weather isn’t cooperating, they could even visit the house of the person with special needs and bring them candy.

Halloween is such a happy time for children and for families. It should be for everyone to enjoy. I’m happy I have been able to do something to make it more enjoyable for Cammy.

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Note: Rett Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Rett Syndrome News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Rett syndrome.

Comments

Christian Proulx avatar

Christian Proulx

Jackie, thanks for sharing your heart-warming experience and advice. It's impossible to hold back the tears when reading your flyer that you hand out to your neighbors. Our little trooper with Rett is only four, so we definitely benefit from your experience and anecdotes. Like you, we are focussed on making sure that she can just be a regular kid. Thanks again, and blessings to you and your family.

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