Holidays and events can be SO much fun for kids, but every year we had to be pretty creative to be sure our kids with severe and profound disabilities were being included in the fun. Their limitations made it more difficult for them to interact with the events and activities going on in the classroom.
We wanted to take a minute today to share with you some of the things we did to make Halloween a little more inclusive. Please comment below if you have more ideas, we would love to hear what you’ve come up with!
- Buttons & Switches: One of our FAVORITE tools for kids who are non-verbal. They are very easy to use. Each brand is a little different, but you basically just push two buttons to record your voice (or better: another students voice) so that the student using the button can “speak”. These are PERFECT on Halloween. We would have one programmed to say “Trick or Treat”, and the other programmed to say “Thank you”. These small buttons are easy to transport and would be fun to take along during neighborhood trick or treating
- Cooking & Eating: For kids on a soft-food diet, Halloween is a bit of a bummer. Our favorite way to accommodate for students who couldn’t eat solid food was to bring a small pumpkin pie (this was the favorite) for them to have a special Halloween treat! Another method we used was bringing a magic bullet to puree whatever we were cooking. This requires some planning ahead since you will likely need some form of liquid in order to make a puree.
- Choice boards: We cannot emphasize this enough: Just because a student cannot talk or control their muscles very well does NOT mean they cannot make independent and individual choices. LET THEM CHOOSE. Even if they require assistance to glue the shape to the page, they are perfectly capable of selecting which shape, and where they want it to go on the page. For example, when the class is making fruit cups, don’t just make the fruit cup for the student. Ask them questions. Talk about the color, shape, and texture of the fruit. Hold up two (or more) choices for what they would like to add first, second, etc. Blinking, looking, small movements and sounds can all be methods students are using to communicate! Stay close, listen and watch for them to make a choice. They can do it, even if we (the teachers) need a little practice to understand what they’re trying to tell us!
- Sensory Items: All of the students will enjoy this addition, but your kids with visual impairment will definitely benefit from this addition to your holiday celebration. Use sensory item! If you are talking about a spider, use a plastic spider so they can feel the legs. If you are talking about a pumpkin, USE a real pumpkin and allow the opportunity for students to explore and learn through touch. Stapling is a great way to help kids with visual impairment do crafts! It’s a very functional, simple way they can feel and participate in, to connect things! Whenever we read any book with students, we try to always have 2-3 sensory objects to interact with. You can read more about this on the Children’s Book Activities section of our site.
Tawni is a former special education teacher, now stay-at-home momma. She spends her days reading, cooking with lots of cheese, listening to professional choral music, and tickling her baby boy, Cy. She lives with her husband and son in Utah.