Do you have a child with AAC or a communication device? Would you like to take that child trick-or-treating? Well you’ve come to the right place! Here are some tips on how to have the best Halloween ever with your AAC user!
1) Program some key Halloween phrases on her AAC device
Many communication devices already come programmed with a Halloween page. Search around on your child’s device for a while and see if you can find one. If not, no problem! You can make one. If your child’s device has an “activities” page, add a Halloween button to that page. Programming is different for each device, so refer to your owner’s manual on how to do this. Manuals can usually be found online on the company’s website. In the Halloween page, you will want to have the following messages for your child to use:
- Trick or Treat
- Thank You
- I’m a ____! (Fill in your child’s costume)
You can add any other buttons that you think your child may want to say at each house. For example, if your child has a favorite candy, you could put a button that says “do you have any lollipops?” You should also think about any other Halloween rituals that are common in your area. For example, my husband is from St. Louis, Missouri and when you are trick-or-treating there you must either tell a joke or do a trick. If your city practices something like this, you could either program a joke or program “watch this” onto the talker.
2) Practice With Your Child
Talk with your child beforehand about what will happen when you go trick or treating. Show him all of the buttons on his talker for Halloween and talk about when you will use each one. Practice at your own house by coming up the front door (have someone inside), ringing the doorbell, and going through the whole routine. You can even do this in your costume. The more time you practice this, the more confident your child will feel about doing it on Halloween. See if you can go over to a friend or family member’s house to practice as well.
3) Plan Your Route and Call Ahead
Think about what houses you are going to visit on Halloween. You want to choose families that are familiar with your child and that you can talk to ahead of time to prepare them. This may be your immediate neighborhood or it may mean you hop in the car and drive to the houses of your family and friends. Either way, choose your route and call those people. Let them know that you will be brining your child and what they can expect in terms of the child’s use of her talker.
Remind them to give her plenty of wait-time so that she has time to push the buttons. Also remind them not to give her the candy until she pushes the button. Many times, people think “Oh, that child can’t talk. I should just give her the candy now so she doesn’t have to try”. This is why it’s good to choose your route ahead of time and prepare them. You can also tell them to ask your child what she’s dressed as so she gets a chance to push that button as well.
4) Watch your child for fatigue
On the night of Halloween, watch your child carefully to make sure he’s not getting too tired. Communicating with a lot of people using new buttons on a communication device can be mentally exhausting. Make sure that you head home when your child looks like they’re getting worn out. You want to make this a positive experience and if they end up crying on someone’s front step, it won’t be remembered that way. You can always take a picture or video at the first or second house and share it with those on your route that didn’t get to see your child in person.
5) Have Fun!!
Halloween is a very exciting event for any child and with the help of an AAC device or talker, your child can enjoy it as well! AAC will open a world of opportunities for your child and this is just one of many. Enjoy!!
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