Halloween and Bonfire Night
Halloween and Bonfire Night are both enjoyable times, but they can also be a scary time for vision impaired children, with unexpected loud noises and strange things happening. Preparing your child for what to expect will help them to enjoy this time of year.
You can help your child prepare for Halloween so that they can join in with friends, whether that’s going trick or treating or attending a Halloween party.
Here are some tips to help you choose a costume for your child:
- Try face paints (hypoallergenic) - this is less restrictive than choosing a mask which might further restrict their vision
- Keep costumes simple without much fabric around their feet (trip hazard) and keep their arms free so they feel in control
- Choose bright, reflective fabrics and costumes so they can enjoy the colours, reflections and textures. Be aware that these fabrics may not be fireproof
Trick or treating
You will be accompanying younger children if they are trick or treating so it’s a good idea to do a quick health and safety check on the route you are planning to take and stick to your own road or familiar area as it will all seem different in the dark.
- Walk the route you plan to take in the dark with a torch – most children will find this fun!
- Practice approaching their own front door, knocking on it and having a family member answer. This way your child will be familiar with the ‘trick or treat’ routine
- For children who can’t see light or in the dark, other senses will be used more so smells, sounds and so on will be key. Talk to them about the different smells and sounds around at night. For example the crisp, crunch of dry leaves underfoot, or the squelch and smell of wet leaves, sounds and headlights of traffic
If your child has a fear of going out in the dark then a good idea is to host a Halloween party at home.
Pumpkins are so much fun for children – the smells and delving into the squelchy flesh with both hands to explore and judge the size and weight of the pumpkin. You could:
- Ask your child to help you choose a pumpkin either at the supermarket or an allotment nearby. You can talk about how pumpkins grow
- Carve a face in the pumpkin for them to feel the zigzag mouth, triangle eyes and so on. Or they can stick on tactile features like felt or paper eyes and mouth
Bonfire Night is a multisensory time so it’s a great opportunity to explore, either at a Bonfire event or at home.
It’s a good idea to pre-warn your child about the loud noises they can expect to hear.
You can also:
- Practice making loud noises at home. See how loud a noise they can make!
- Explain what a firework is, for example, rockets exploding, and how the explosion is far away and safe
Bonfire Night at home
For children with some vision, fireworks can be exciting with bright, colourful flashes of light but sudden unusual noises can be startling.
- If you are planning your own garden fireworks display and your child is unsure of the noise, they can watch from inside the house and come outside when quieter fireworks are being lit (such as Roman Candles). There will be plenty of sounds, lights and smells for them to experience
- Get some sparklers. Try different coloured ones which you can stick in the ground and light. You can talk about the sparkling light and the noises and smell they make
- Take a torch out into the garden or park and explore on Bonfire Night. For example, shine the torch around and ask them to find different things like a tree or a flowerpot
A multisensory experience at an outside event
Bonfire Night is an exciting time. Here are a few things your child will be able to smell, taste, hear, touch and perhaps see:
Smells: Fireworks, sparklers, smoke, bonfire, damp leaves, bonfire night food cooking, such as sausages and onions
Tastes: Sausages, onions, hot soup, baked potatoes. It’s a great chance to introduce your child to these if you are throwing or attending a party
Sounds: Different fireworks make different sounds. Sizzling sausages, crackling bonfire, music and night time sounds such as owls
Vision: Flashes, flares, colours and the contrast between dark and light. Glow sticks and necklaces can be exciting for children with some vision
Touch: Grass, leaves, sticks. They can collect dry leaves – you can show them how a bonfire is made
If you have an iPad or smartphone you can hold this up to enlarge what’s happening for your child if they can’t see it at a distance. Or you can take photos and enlarge them on the screen to show them.