The Halloween Conundrum: Trick or Treating w/ Sensory Challenges and a Feeding Tube

This year the 50th day of kindergarten fell on Halloween, so the entire class dressed up in 1950’s attire. This was perfect. We had considered being a tiger, a fairy, or Princess Leia,  but when we heard about the 1950’s bash we decided a sock hop gal would be our official costume.

Abi wore my (fake) pearl earrings, a piece of a scarf that I cut from one of mine, a new poodle skirt and her own cardigan for a sight that had me squealing. I mean come on. She posed herself in this one. I can’t really talk about it.


She had a great day and it was a blast seeing all the little kiddos in pink jackets and slicked back hair. After school, however, came the whole Trick or Treat question. In the past we’ve done trunk or treats or a trip to Sonic for some ice cream. And every year- Abi’s horse therapy clinic dresses up (humans AND horses), decorates the arena, and hosts fun games with prizes and music during the riders normally scheduled therapy time. WE LOVE THAT. It gives us a place to enjoy the fun in an environment that is familiar. Because the truth is, rolling around a neighborhood in her chair in the dark- or even attending a trunk-or-treat in a new place- sounds like a sensory overload for Abi. Not to mention- the reward- candy, is not something she can easily eat right now. (Abi is on a feeding tube but is learning to eat by mouth in feeding therapy. As of now she’s rocking soft consistencies and gaining in her chewing skills.) Perhaps, I’m wrong and one day I’ll try it, but for now I’m left searching for ways for her to enjoy the holiday without feeling like her friends went trick-or-treating and she didn’t.

So yesterday, when we got home from school, I asked Abi if she wanted to go out for ice cream and then have “trick-or-treats” at the house- OR would she rather just stay home and do it all from here. She answered “stay home.” So- alas- I got on Amazon Prime Now- ordered ice cream to be delivered (thank you 2016) and began concocting our “trick-or-treating-at-home-shindig.”

I tore open a Reese’s, got out some sprinkles, grabbed a bag of chips, and packet of Chick-Fil-A sauce. Ha. My girl likes tangy over sweet so I thought the sauce might be something fun and new to try.

I then said, “Are you ready to trick or treat??” And she got wild-eyed with a smile. I picked up my darling sock hop gal and said, “Do you want a trick or a treat?” And she lit up with “Treat” – so I let her taste the peanut butter in the Reese’s. She liked it. Then I did the same with the chick-fil-a sauce… then the sprinkles… then the chips (she loves licking tortilla chips)… And before long we were having an all out feast. Sauce on chips, sprinkles on peanut butter, it was fun and delicious.

And then finally- after the all the treats were had, the costume was off, and the pajamas were on- I tucked her into bed and told her the ice cream was on its way. And as fate would have it, my phone got a text that very minute that it was there. I ran to the door and there was Abi’s caramel ice cream sitting right there on the door mat. I yelled to her from the kitchen, “Your ice cream is here!!” Tore open the package, threw it in a bowl, and ran back into Abi’s room. Perfect timing for one last Halloween Hoorah. Ice cream in bed.


I mean does it get any better than that?

As I went through the motions last night of modifying this whole tradition, it made me think of all the families out there coming up with their own unique accommodations. Friends with sensory challenges who may be triggered by some of the festivities, kids with mobility challenges who aren’t running with their friends from door to door, it’s a bit of a conundrum that can hit parents in the gut unexpectedly.

I’m so thankful for places like our horse therapy stables that take EVERY SINGLE HOLIDAY and make it something their clients can enjoy. That way- if that’s all you did- you were still a part of the celebration in a really awesome way.

Cheers to us parents. We are doing it.  We are figuring it out. It’s not that “we don’t fit situations” it’s that certain situations just don’t fit us. And that’s okay. I am thrilled for families who do enjoy the typical holiday traditions and I’m thrilled for us that we get to make new ones. As the night fell, I stepped out onto the porch, sat back with a cold beer and exhaled. Life is good. In the end it’s all about having fun- and that’s a challenge we meet every time.

Happy November Friends.