KOKOMO, Ind. — For a child with sensory issues or food allergies, Halloween can be scary — but not in a fun way.
Indiana University Kokomo will provide a safe place for them to enjoy traditional trick-or-treating, by adding a sensory sensitive hour to its annual Halloween Open House this Friday, October 26 in the Kelley Student Center. Children 10 and younger with special needs — including dietary — may participate from 5 to 6 p.m.
The sensory hour is open to the first 100 children registered by the Tuesday, October 23 deadline. To register, contact Sarah Graves, administrative assistant for student life and campus diversity, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trick-or-treating is open to all children 10 and younger from 6 to 8 p.m.
Graves was inspired to add the sensory hour, because she knows the battle special needs moms face for their children to be comfortable trick-or-treating for Halloween.
“IU Kokomo wants the parents of special needs children to know that they have somewhere to go with their kids that is less crowded, and is adapted to their needs,” she said. “It’s not only better for the special needs children, but it gives the parents ease to know that their children will be in a comfortable setting.”
Instead of the 22 booths that will be provided from the 6 to 8 p.m. hours, only 11 booths will be set up during the sensory hour, to give the children more space to move. The hour will also still provide balloon animals, but not on stilts. Alternative treats that are allergy friendly, such as coloring books, toys, glowing bracelets, and specially-made food and snacks, will be available.
Students in IU Kokomo’s education, early childhood education, and psychology programs are assisting, and Indiana First Steps, Indiana Behavioral Analysis Academy, Bona Vista, Hopebridge, and Engaging Minds Autism Services also are partnering with the campus to offer the event.
Graves plans to provide a “calm room” for children who get overwhelmed or need a break from their surroundings.
Story written by Makenzi Ruff. Makenzi is an intern in the Office of Media and Marketing.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.