For many who celebrate Halloween, the thrill of dressing up and trick or treating is starting to kick in! For a parent of a child with high sensory issues, the holiday can feel overwhelming when trying to navigate how best to support your loved one.
From uncomfortable costumes to sudden noises or big crowds, triggers may be all around. With some planning and creativity, you can hopefully sidestep some of these potential problems.
If your loved one has tactile sensitivities, fog machines and some Halloween decor can cause challenges. Consider taking your loved one to one of the many pop-up Halloween stores to explore. If you’re loved one isn’t a fan of pumpkin guts – do alternative jack-o-lantern fun with paints, stickers, or fake pumpkins.
When it comes to costumes, you’ll want to consider their interests, the materials, the fit, and the smells.
- Let your loved one explore the costumes in the store so they become familiar with it.
- If possible, wash the costume in your usual detergent to soften and get a familiar smell.
- Avoid masks or things on your loved one’s face for better comfort. If they think they want the mask, have them practice wearing it before the big night.
- Encourage them to wear the entire costume a few times before Halloween night.
- Consider them wearing PJ’s or other comfortable clothing under the costume.
- If making your own costume, use your child’s favored items like a soft towel for a cape or a preferred hat with some embellishments as a crown. A comfortable hoodie can be made into many animal costumes.
- Incorporate items they may need into the costume. If they are going to use sound cancelling headphones, they could be a DJ or pilot. Be creative with what you have!
For the actual trick or treating, try these tips to help curb sensory meltdowns:
- Map and walk the route ahead of time.
- Head out while it’s still daylight.
- If your loved one has a hard time walking long distances, try a wagon, stroller, or other mobile device to help.
- Finally, follow their lead. If they are done, return home and have them hand out candy.
If Halloween isn’t their thing, make new traditions like festive crafting, a family game night with fun foods or cuddle up with a fun Halloween show and some popcorn.
For a parent of a child with communication challenges, the idea of trick or treating can be stressful. Concerns about whether or not a loved one with unclear speech will be able to have fun trick or treating are entirely valid- but, like the sensory issues mentioned before, this can be improved upon with a little creativity.
Festive “Trick or Treat” Greetings
The use of Halloween cards to say “Trick or Treat!” is a great way to help your loved one bridge the communication gap. The cards can either be handwritten or printed and a couple of examples are shown below for you! You can also use them as an awareness tool for your neighbors to learn more about Down syndrome.
Using signs can be an effective way to enjoy “Trick or Treating” for Halloween and, as an added bonus, you may be teaching a neighbor something new! Here’s an entertaining video with ASL tutorials for Halloween. We bet you’ll have fun learning all these different signs! Click here for 25 Halloween Signs in ASL.
AAC Device or PECS
Using the tools your loved one already has for communication is a natural way to go! Set up any electronic device (AAC) with all the buttons they need to communicate and be sure to include what their costume is in case neighbors ask. If carrying around the device is too difficult with a costume, ask your SLP to print out and laminate the buttons you need for the night. If your loved one uses PECS (picture exchange communication system)- be sure they have a stable folder/clipboard to help them easily choose or point to the card they need.
**DSAGC Halloween Parties**
All Halloween Parties take place at our Empowerment Center. We do have a fully-equipped sensory room available for anyone who needs a break during activities.
Teen Group (ages 13 - 17) - occurred on 10/23
Hispanic Family Group - occurred on 10/23
Early Matters (ages 0 - 5) - Thursday, October 27
Candy Vendors (ages 35 and up) - Thursday, October 27
Adult (ages 18 and up) - Friday, October 28
School-Age (ages 6 - 11) - Saturday, October 29
Our programs focus on therapeutic, recreational, educational, and social opportunities for all ages and stages. We tailor our offerings to reflect the need of our local families as we strive to provide valuable support and quality programs for those in our community.
Reading Readiness (ages 4 - 5)
Soccer Shots (ages 6 - 17)
Cheerleading (grades K - 12)
Magnified Giving (ages 13 - 17)
Theatre Program (ages 18 & up)
Leisure Exploration (ages 18 & up)
Running Group (all ages)
Listen and Create (ages 4 - 12)
Staying Safe Online (10 and up)
Baking at Tablespoon (ages 18+)
Lunch and Learn: Aunts and Uncles (ages 35+)
Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (Parents)
Early Matters Playgroup (ages 0 - 5)
Creepy Crawly Costume Party
(ages 0 - 5)
Sunday Funday (ages 6 - 12)
Spooktacular Saturday (ages 6 - 12)
Ninja Warrior Social (ages 6 - 17)
Teen Club Events (ages 13 - 17)
Holiday Crafting (ages 13 & up)
Art & Apps (ages 18 & up)
Lunch N Learn (ages 35 & up)
Candy Vendors (ages 35 & up)
Holiday Helpers (ages 35 & up)
Dinner and Dialogue (ages 35 & up)
Sibling Soiree (siblings of those 35+)
We have partnered with the University of Cincinnati Speech-Language Pathology graduate program to create our new T.E.L.L. Program for adults with Down syndrome! T.E.L.L. stands for Teaching Engagement and Lifelong Language.
Fall 2022 Session is FULL.
Spring 2023 Registration Opens December 1.
Sunday, November 20
2:00 – 5:00 pm
Every Wednesday & Friday
10 - 12 pm
2nd Saturday of the month
10 - 12 pm
Virtual Music Therapy (ages 0 - 5)
Virtual Cooking (all ages)
Virtual Baking (all ages)
Virtual Bingo (all ages)
Virtual Creative Expression
(ages 18 & up)
Buddy Up Tennis & Fitness
Thanks to parent volunteers, we can partner with Buddy Up for Life® to offer Tennis and Fitness programs here in Cincinnati. Please note - all registration, reminders, and communication for tennis and fitness go through Buddy Up for Life® and the parent volunteers. Thank you - Lisa Arnold, Kathy Szudejko, and Marian Powell
Tuesdays and Thursdays in October
12 pm and 7 pm
Together with the other Ohio Down Syndrome Associations, DSACO is hosting a virtual research symposium throughout the month of October. Sessions will take place on Tuesdays during the lunch hour, and Thursdays in the evening. Please see the sessions listed below and use the form below to register.
Sunday, December 4
1 - 4 pm • Oasis Center
902 Loveland-Miamiville Rd, Loveland, OH 45140
We celebrate the holiday season every December by bringing our community together for a visit with Santa and decorating holiday crafts.
This year is extra special! We will host our first-ever DSAGC Holiday Market. Adults with disabilities who own their own business or create their own art will be selling their merchandise. The holiday party is FREE, but be sure to extra bring cash if you'd like to purchase from these vendors.
Because of this, we will not be serving a sit down lunch like in past years. However, cookies and drinks will still be available.
The Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati supports families through a variety of life circumstances. The Giving Tree program is way to offer support for families who may need a helping hand during the holiday season. Generous sponsors provide items from wish lists provided by the families in need to ensure children have special gifts to open.
If you are a family in the local Down syndrome community and need assistance this holiday season, please consider registering for the Giving Tree program. All children in a family unit (18 years old and younger) and adults with Down syndrome are eligible to receive gifts from sponsors valued at $50 - $60 per person (no electronics or bicycles, please). You will have the opportunity to share gift suggestions and clothing sizes for your child(ren). Eligible families must have a child or adult with Down syndrome and live in the DSAGC twelve-county area. Please note, your information will be kept confidential and only seen by the Giving Tree committee. Your gifts will be available for pick up at the DSAGC Office in early to mid-December. Registration closes before Thanksgiving. If you are looking for assistance after Thanksgiving, please contact Maggie Ranz at MaggieR@dsagc.com or 513-761-5400.
register for a helping hand
Our generous sponsors are the backbone of the giving tree program. We rely on sponsors to make sure families who may need a helping hand can have a special holiday season with their loved ones. As a sponsor, you can select how many children you’d like to sponsor. The suggested gift range is $50-$60 per child. Sponsors can drop off gifts at the DSAGC Office (4623 Wesley Avenue, Suite A Cincinnati, Ohio 45212) any time.
After signing up to be a sponsor, you will receive a confirmation email along with more information and wish lists from our Giving Tree committee within 3 - 5 days.
sign-up to be a sponsor
You can click here to make a monetary donation to the Giving Tree program.
Community Groups provide support, information, and be a resource while creating a warm, welcoming, empathetic environment. We have a wide variety of groups by area and interest.
DS/ASD Support Group
In an effort to support families with loved ones who have or who suspect to have a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (ASD), the DSAGC is offering a newly formed support group for parents and caregivers. The goal of this group is to connect families to help support one another by talking through challenges and successes while guided by a qualified group facilitator. Participants will benefit from the facilitator’s knowledge of strategies to help in extra stressful situations. They will be able to encourage each other as caregivers and can share and learn firsthand about resources to help in the many stages of this journey.
Social Clubs meet monthly and serve as an opportunity for our adults with Down syndrome to take a leadership role in planning and implementing their own social activities.
Our Teen Club is designed for teens to meet monthly for additional social and learning opportunities.
Transportation Assistance Fund
The DSAGC understands that some members in our community face challenges getting to and from important activities and appointments. To help, we established the Transportation Assistance Fund (TAF). The TAF provides financial assistance to parents or caregivers so they can obtain dependable and convenient transportation to DSAGC programs and events, or medical and therapy appointments for their loved one with Down syndrome.
transportation assistance fund application in english
transportation assistance fund application in spanish
Hospital Care Packages
We deliver care packages to individuals with Down syndrome who are admitted to the hospital. Our care packages include meal tickets, snacks, cards, activities, books, and more.
Community Participation Fund
We have a limited amount of scholarships available for individuals with Down syndrome to participate in community activities (such as camps, soccer, swim lessons) and therapies. There is also funding available for parents to attend educational meetings or conferences. We pay half of the request (up to $250 per year). You must live within our 12 county area to be eligible.
Down Syndrome Awareness License Plates
Good news! A Down Syndrome Awareness license plate has been approved in Kentucky. Production will start in 2023. If you are interested in purchasing a license plate, please fill out this interest form to get updates!
KY Ds Awareness License Plate Interest (networkforgood.com)
Ohio Down Syndrome Awareness license plates are available for purchase through any Ohio BMV! For every license plate sold, $25 goes back to support advocacy and awareness efforts of the Down Syndrome Associations in Ohio.
Down syndrome Awareness license plates can be purchased in person, at any Indiana BMV branch, at a BMV Connect kiosk, or online. To find the plate online, visit the BMV website. Select the plate labeled, “Down Syndrome Indiana”.
Transition to Employment Open Houses
Do you know a small business owner or someone who works in HR? We have created resource folders to share with those interested in employing a person with Down syndrome. We would love your help in getting the folders in the right hands! If you would like one to pass along, please contact our Outreach Specialist, Molly Blaker, at email@example.com or stop by the DSAGC office.
Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati
4623 Wesley Avenue Suite A | Cincinnati, 45212
5137615400 | firstname.lastname@example.org