In an already tricky time, Halloween can be even more tricky for kids with food allergy. For the past several years, 2020 not included, Lurie Children’s FASE (Food Allergy Support and Education Program) hosts a Kids with Food Allergy Hangout to talk about Halloween. As the hangout begins, some of the kids are quiet and reluctant; others excited and noisy. But what they all have in common is a challenging relationship with Halloween.
As we sit down together in a large circle, we introduce ourselves and share our costumes. Some of the older kids ask if we are really going to talk about Halloween the whole time because they did not have anything to say about it. Within three minutes, these same kids won’t stop talking about how Halloween makes them feel, isolated and frustrated. As they speak, the younger kids echo their feelings. They talk about their sadness and fear but they also share their feelings of acceptance and excitement.
One of the most important conversations that we have is about each of our “Halloween Routines.” We talk about whether or not we go trick-or-treating or stay home to hand out candy; whether we take whatever candy is given to us or ask for safe candy; whether we look for teal pumpkins at houses knowing that they will likely have non-food options; whether our parents separate the safe from the unsafe; whether we donate the candy to dentist’s offices or the military or whether we have our unsafe candy switched out for safe candy. It seems that each family finds a creative way to make the holiday a day that their child can still find joy in despite the inherent difficulties.
If your child with food allergies plans on heading out to trick-or-treat, share these reminders with him/her/them.