By The Auntie
I currently have two pumpkins sitting in my kitchen, one of which I will help my nephew carve when I have him over night on Wednesday for another of our sleepovers. I have never carved a pumpkin with him, don’t know if he will enjoy it, but this we will discover.
For the last couple of years, I have found myself at home for Halloween and I LOVE Halloween. I have fond memories of eating silly, “disgusting” food, dressing up and apple bobbing as a kid.
Nowadays, it’s all about the trick or treating and no-one seems to do the traditional games any more, so I decided that I was going to introduce the kids in my family to a couple of them.
And yes, I dressed up. I like dressing up. The first year I was the only adult that dressed up. Last year there were more.
So here’s the recipe …….
- Make a finger food buffet and give it Halloween style names.
- Make your own costume – a sheet for a ghost; a ripped T-shirt and some face paint makes a zombie; black clothes and green face paint transforms you into Elphaba – use your imagination and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
- Buy some apples.
- Buy some doughnuts and string.
- Put the apples in a washing up bowl full of water and bob – I can promise you that the adults WILL get competitive!
- Eat the finger food – this has to be done before the doughnuts – use the doughnuts to bribe little people into eating some proper horror food.
- Tie the doughnuts on the string. The contestants lie on the floor and have to eat the doughnut from the end of the string which is held sympathetically by another contestant.
At some point in the evening they will want to fit in trick or treating, you fit it in where appropriate.
“So,” I hear you say, “That all sounds like fun stuff to do – why is The Auntie making a point of it?”
Festivities are always a trial for families of kids with special needs. In the frazzled environs of day to day life, planning anything more than managing to get out for some trick or treating is near impossible and our kids with FASD can feel let down, left out, or overwhelmed.
By giving up a few hours time prepping some food and organising a couple of silly games, you can give your families affected by FASD an evening of smiles, silliness, rest and respite.
Even if you don’t want to do the food bit (you could always ask whoever is coming to bring a contribution and have a pot luck dinner) you can still give your families a moment away from the everyday trauma. The new school year adjustments are ramping up. You can give them a tiny oasis away from that.
Yes, it might only be a couple of hours. But, for our families, those occasional moments may be enough to knock a couple of straws of the camel’s back.
P.S. from FASD_Mum: What The Auntie may not know is how many challenges her Halloween parties have solved for our son with FASD. His sensory issues make walking around during cold nights wearing costumes and masks a real nightmare for him. He gets freaked by some (most) of the Halloween decorations, especially at houses where there are decorations with loud noises and surprises. He is intimidated to walk up to people’s doors, takes too long to choose which candy he wants … it becomes very overwhelming, very fast. He is starting to feel a bit out of place, at the age of 12, when so many of the kids are much younger, but emotionally he is still at the age where he wants to participate. Too much trick or treating yields too much sugar, which has its own host of problems (if there is candy in the house, it will be eaten until it is no longer there – our guy is not one to pace himself and it is impossible to hide it away, candy-related meltdowns are guaranteed at this time of year). In many ways he is just as happy staying inside and giving out the treats as he is knocking on doors.
The Auntie’s family-focused and extremely fun but low-key parties have been perfect for our son. They are a sensory treat for him (bobbing for apples!). Most of the activity is at her home, with a few visits to trick or treat at the homes of neighbours who know the family well. And the real joy is that in her enthusiasm to do something she loves, she hasn’t even realized just how perfect these parties have been for our son with FASD.
Spending time with a child with FASD can be great fun, and it’s all the more exciting when another extended family member includes them in something that they really enjoy. Sometimes only a few modifications are needed, and the kids build such positive memories and family relations are strengthened. Maybe this particular kind of party would not work for all kids, but I would bet there is some way to plan just an hour or two this Halloween that would really make a child light up with joy and give the whole family something to feel good about.
And then, of course, if Halloween is too soon, there is also Bonfire Night…