Halloween Forum banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I had the most wonderful little boy visit me this year. His dad brought him up to where I was sitting and passing out candy. I don't remember what the dad said, but he handed me the card in the photo and conveyed fact that he could not speak. I gave his son candy and he touched me on the knee and shook his head approvingly when his dad asked if he liked my decorations.

It was only during the next break when I got a chance to read the card and it brought tears to my eyes. I'm used to getting those silly Chick Tracts or some religion based false diatribe against Hallowe'en, but this was truly my treat of the year.

This got me to thinking...I could have ruined his entire Hallowe'en if I had scared him with the air cannon. I always wait until after they have their candy to see how old the kids are and judge whether they are good candidates or not. I love scaring people, even making them pee their pants a time or two, but ruining my favorite holiday for anyone, big or small, would just break my heart.

Haunters need a universal safeword or sign or something to let us know before it's too late. I'm thinking some sort of sign for them to pick up and carry, then return to a stand, would work best for my situation of a sidewalk with stuff around it. A friend of mine is head of a local autism charity, but I'd like to have a few good ideas before approaching him to see how it could be developed.

Thoughts?
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
668 Posts
I am moved by your post and desire to understand this disability.
As a parent of a child with ASD, I can say that not all ASD patients are the same. Some episodes can be triggered by the fact that they are being singled out (look at me with the do not scare sign). We as haunters would hate the thought that we could potentially make a bad night for anyone, but as the parent with an ASD child, knows their child's limits best, it should be up to them to avoid or encourage the child.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,863 Posts
...Some episodes can be triggered by the fact that they are being singled out (look at me with the do not scare sign)...
If I'm not mistaken, what LaserGecko is indicating is a signal-sort of sign, not something one carries-- something subtle and unobtrusive for just that reason (no obvious singling out). I like the idea, but of course it would always be up to the parent or caregiver to decide whether/when to give the signal, and it would require the people giving out candy to recognize and respect it.
I think the cards are great! Maybe we Halloween fans could help spread that idea, and maybe even help get some cards made up and offered to parents in our areas ahead of Halloween.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
668 Posts
If I'm not mistaken, what LaserGecko is indicating is a signal-sort of sign, not something one carries-- something subtle and unobtrusive for just that reason (no obvious singling out). I like the idea, but of course it would always be up to the parent or caregiver to decide whether/when to give the signal, and it would require the people giving out candy to recognize and respect it.
I think the cards are great! Maybe we Halloween fans could help spread that idea, and maybe even help get some cards made up and offered to parents in our areas ahead of Halloween.

lazerGecko said:
Haunters need a universal safeword or sign or something to let us know before it's too late. I'm thinking some sort of sign for them to pick up and carry, then return to a stand, would work best for my situation of a sidewalk with stuff around it. A friend of mine is head of a local autism charity, but I'd like to have a few good ideas before approaching him to see how it could be developed.
Based on the post, it appeared to be a physical sign. As for picking up on cues, it sometimes tough to read a child, but not impossible. The sheer numbers of Halloween make it hard to keep up though when you see 300 ninja turtles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Actually, I just had the sign idea while I was writing the post. My original idea was for some sort of universal "password" or phrase they could say, but sometimes things get pretty hectic and the haunt operator might not hear it.

I'm just referring to something the TOTs at my house could pick up at the curb before they enter my property and return when they leave. Not every house with decorations is a "haunt" or has air cannons.

It's not meant to be an albatross nor a Scarlet Letter for them to wear from house to house to house. Just something that those with special needs kids can look for and utilize if available.

Heck, perhaps a scoring system or "Effects Ranking" would be even more useful, some sort of standardized sign so they know what it's like from house to house. Different kids react to different stimuli. One child may be fine with the colored lights at my house and may not mind the noise, but a burst of air may be a trigger. Another one might not like the lights changing brightness in reaction to the sound from the air horn, so each parent can keep an eye out for what to avoid.

Another symbol might be for "Automatic/Random/Controllable".

Just spitballing ideas here. I want to scare the ones who can handle it, but certainly not terrify the ones who cannot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
460 Posts
I don't have the experience to offer suggestions, but I'm glad this is being talked about.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,208 Posts
My Wife says there is such a sign or something for this,an armband ...it is used in stores and places out in public.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,783 Posts
Well...We had an autistic teen helping us scare this year.

I've thought how to phrase this, and there is no way. I'm glad that you've found some cause that you feel strongly about, and I think you should pursue it. But, if we are to make a universal phrase for autism, what about the kids being abused at home that might be sensitive to certain scenes, or how about those epileptic kids that might react to your strobe, or that asthmatic that fog might effect, and so on down the line.

Let me instead let you know how I reacted when I was presented with a special situation:

Back in 2006, I had a small walkthrough, and at the end was a small tent that had a static figure and a strobe. I wandered the yard back in those days with the 150ish trick or treaters we would get. Well, I heard a girl commenting to her parents "oh, another house I can't go up to". Turning around, I saw a girl in a wheelchair and went up to talk to her. Offering to turn off the strobe so she could go up, she declined "I don't want to ruin it for my sister". I made her a promise that I would make it better, and make it safe for her in 2006.

November of 2006, I started researching. I knew about strobes, but what else would be problematic for an epileptic child. I joined a support forum for those with kids, and asked the question of how I could make halloween safe. I was rudely greeted and told not to bother. I joined here in april of '07, and asked here. I was met with a similar response and almost left the forum. Don't bother, it's not your problem, just give her a candy outside the haunt, etc.

This was, to me, unacceptable. 2007 marked the debut of our headhunter theme, and I made sure it was well lit with minimal flickering, wheelchair accessible, and as safe as I possibly could given my research. The big night was our busiest yet, and as the night began to dwindle, I was concerned they wouldn't even try. Soon I heard an excited voice several houses away.

"No, let's go there!"
Mom says something.
"No, he said he would FIX IT!"
Mom says something.
"But he PROMISED!!!"

I ignored the other trick or treaters and some of them probably grabbed a handful or two at the time from the big bowl of candy, and I went out to meet the family. Confirming to the mom that I had made it as safe as I knew how for her, this girl slowly moved through the yard, soaking EVERYTHING in. Her mom explained she had been in poor spirits the last few months until she saw me put up the countdown sign, and had been anxiously waiting for this night ever since. They had warned her I might have forgotten, and tried to distract her fearing a bad reaction if I had forgotten. There were tears and hugs.

In 2008, I had gotten in touch with this girl's school, and worked with experts in making sure everything WAS safe for sure. And, Halloween night comes, 2 BUSES pull up and out come a dozen kids in wheelchairs and their families, and some of the teachers. We asked trick or treaters to come back in 30 minutes so we could help the school, reset the treat station with little gift bags the school had made tailored to each child's needs with their names and everything.

Since then, I've helped the school set up for their own little safe trick or treat at their school, but still make sure my yard is safe should any choose to come here after. Many do.
 

·
Lighthearted Halloween
Joined
·
3,795 Posts
Wonderful post.
As the parent of two children with autism... Halloween can be a nightmare (and not in the way we like). This is why we started our Lighthearted Halloween display ten years ago. Now everyone in town knows that our house is THE house that is non-threatening and static to bring their special children.

I don't have any new ideas for a universal signal that can be used, but I'm completely on board if something takes off!

Thank you for caring.
 

·
Wisp in the Mist
Joined
·
1,953 Posts
I love that card! Count me in as an ASD parent, to three very different boys. My oldest and my youngest both had certain items that they were afraid of, but my middle son, who is also "intellectually disabled", LOVES spooky things. He thinks they're hilarious. My oldest is diagnosed with Aspergers, and my youngest likely will be someday, but for now, because he has such difficulty with speaking, he is just labeled as "autistic".

Most kids who came to our house enjoyed everything. I do have a few things that talk or move, but nothing much. Next year, I'll have the Home Depot witch and "pumpkin man" out, and I'm afraid that some of them will be more scared than I'd like them to be. I know, it's Halloween, but I don't want to literally scare them--just spook them a little..."is it real? hmm, no...maybe...no...??"

One of my cousins brought her little boy who is 4 to our house. She had to carry him to the front door, because he was so afraid of everything, and he doesn't have any sort of diagnosis (not to say he won't, but they have no reason to believe he will). I felt bad about scaring him, because he is about the same age as my youngest, only slightly older, and they enjoy playing together. I like it when he comes over to play, and I don't want him thinking that my house is actually scary.

We had some older ToTers with intellectual disabilities. We live a few doors down from a "DD Home" for disabled adults, where they live as roommates, with "helpers" living with them. They had a skeleton bride and groom, and some tombstones in their yard. :) They all commented how they liked our decorations too. Granted, they are adults, but my middle son is 13 and has the mentality of a 5-6 yr old, so age doesn't really factor in, in such situations.

My 13 yr old attends a boarding school for special kids, even though he is bussed in daily and lives at home. I have been to their campus during October in the last few years, and they always have ghosts, reapers, and tombstones up in the yards of the housing units, and in front of the school building. Their school "specialty" is autism, although they take other children with different disabilities, of course.

Neither the DD home, nor my son's school would decorate the way that they do, if everything scary affected them negatively. So, its a piece by piece basis--you just never know what will, or won't upset them.

My youngest loves ooohing and ahhing over everything while it's in the box, but get it out, and if it talks or moves, it is no longer his friend! My oldest was the same way. My middle son is "do it again, do it again", if he could talk. ;)

I do like the idea of finding a way to be sure to not scare someone who is overly sensitive. I think it's bound to happen by accident at times though, and we shouldn't beat ourselves up when it does.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
My oldest grandson is the same way, but he's just a fraidy cat. He almost wouldn't walk up the sidewalk to the house he's been to a thousand times this year. That's why I can't do the haunt that I want to do. This year was setup during the day of Halloween, but I'm done with that. If he's brave enough to play Five Nights at Freddy's, well, he can withstand the outside of my house! It was all I could do to not hit the air cannon horn, especially when my daughter grabbed the button from me and had to "guide" him up the walk.

I told her "sweety, you know that's the remote for the fog machine, right?"

"Dad, you will be a prop next year if you do it!" (Actually, I'd kind of like that, not next year, but heck, when I'm done with this skeleton, why not?...but I digress.)

OOTR

Making it Fun
I just had another idea... a house up the street hands out glow ring necklaces to the TOTs. Perhaps getting a different color or making a special LED amulet than they uses and posting a sign that reads "Guardians - If your child requires safe passage due to a medical condition, wear this magical Collar of Protection and the ghosts of the haunt shall bother you not!"
 

·
Insert Witty Comment Here
Joined
·
4,484 Posts
My oldest grandson is the same way, but he's just a fraidy cat. He almost wouldn't walk up the sidewalk to the house he's been to a thousand times this year. That's why I can't do the haunt that I want to do.
As UnOrthodox mentioned above, the possibility exists to have lots of different exceptions. And if you are to abide by all the exceptions, then you can't do the haunt you want to do. Yep, I'm being selfish, but if I have to build a haunt that isn't what I want to do, why do it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
573 Posts
This is a great idea. At the moment my biggest props are lights and gravestones but I'm hoping to add in bigger moving props in the next few years and don't want to scare anyone too badly. I had one little boy this year come up (I think he was autistic but not sure) and he mom said he couldn't ask for candy/speak. I happily have him a handful of candy and told them both to have a great evening. I know we have a few kids in the area where flashing lights strobe lights could be a problem and I want everyone to have fun. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
144 Posts
Thank you to everyone of you that is will to take the time to discuss this sensitive matter. I work for a developmental preschool for special needs children. We serve a wide variety of children with many different diagnosis from Autism to CP and Downs. . Because of my job I get a lot of children with wheelchairs, walkers, hearing aids, etc...

I always strive to have a friendly display. But, even still, I get kids who are scared just because thats what they expect from Halloween. I agree with one of the posters earlier said its the parents responsibility to decide whats appropriate for their children. I am glad there are a variety of hunters out there that provide different experiences for their TOTs. All responsible Haunters try to scale their haunt to their audience, but sometimes its impossible to please every TOT. For example; If you are a blood and gore haunter, your display may not be appropriate for any 4 year old regardless of their disability. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are a kiddie "haunter", older kids may not be as impressed with your display.

Instead of singling out certain kids (which would be impossible with my crowds) it may be easier and more appropriate to put out a yard sign for "family friendly" or "scary". That way the parents/kids can decide for them selves.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Some folks might be reading more into this than intended. I'm not going to design my haunt to accommodate every single need of every single child and then decide who to admit. I don't know 99% of these kids. It's up to the parents to decide. I just want an easy way for them to make the decision.

Honestly, if someone brings their asthmatic kid onto my property when they can see the fog and haze billiowing out from the entryway, that's on them. However, if loud noises cause their son to shut down and they didn't hear it the last time I fired it, I'd love to be able to not ruin their Hallowe'en simply by not pressing the button.


This also stems from the fact that when I was a Cub Scout leader, I didn't know that one of our Cubs had a problem until well after a significant episode at our Mega Expo. I didn't have anything to do with it, but it frightened me that I could have caused a similar thing to happen in the past by not taking his needs into account and talking to him like I would the other Cubs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
573 Posts
Some folks might be reading more into this than intended. I'm not going to design my haunt to accommodate every single need of every single child and then decide who to admit. I don't know 99% of these kids. It's up to the parents to decide. I just want an easy way for them to make the decision.

Honestly, if someone brings their asthmatic kid onto my property when they can see the fog and haze billiowing out from the entryway, that's on them. However, if loud noises cause their son to shut down and they didn't hear it the last time I fired it, I'd love to be able to not ruin their Hallowe'en simply by not pressing the button.


This also stems from the fact that when I was a Cub Scout leader, I didn't know that one of our Cubs had a problem until well after a significant episode at our Mega Expo. I didn't have anything to do with it, but it frightened me that I could have caused a similar thing to happen in the past by not taking his needs into account and talking to him like I would the other Cubs.

I wouldn't necessarily change the decorations I put out to make sure some kids would come but I wouldn't mind doing something as simple as say turning off a strobe light for 5 minutes so someone who is say prone to seizures could still come up an enjoy the rest of the yard and decorations.
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top