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Halloween Fun for Kids with Hemiplegia

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October 2015

The weather is chilling off, and it’s time to get ready for Halloween! Here are some ideas to encourage kids to use both their hands to get ready for this spooky holiday.

Halloween for Kids with Hemiplegia
Photo Credit: Syda Productions/Dollar Photo Club

Halloween fun often starts with picking the perfect pumpkin from the pumpkin patch. Your child will need both hands to carry large, heavy pumpkins. Carrying the pumpkin away from his or her body with elbows straight and both hands on the side of the pumpkin (instead of one on top and one on the bottom) will increase the challenge.

When it’s time to carve the pumpkin, you can have your child help scoop out the seeds with their hands or a spoon. Their affected side can help stabilize the pumpkin while the other hand scoops. If you cut a small slice on the bottom of the pumpkin so that it has a flat bottom surface, it will help keep it from moving as much when your child it manipulating it.

Trying on costumes is a great way to practice dressing skills. When choosing a costume, larger-sized costumes will be easier to practice putting on and taking off independently. In addition, taking the costume off is usually easier than putting it on. When dressing tasks get difficult, try demonstrating where your child should place their hands and then help them complete the task as needed. Hats, headbands and necklaces can help encourage your child to bring both of his or her hands overhead.

Halloween for Kids with Hemiplegia
Photo Credit: Christin Lola/Dollar Photo Club

Once they are in costume, trick-or-treating can be a highly motivating time to encourage your child to use both of their hands. For example, ask your child to carry their tick-or-treating bucket or bag with one hand while they knock or ring the doorbell with the other hand, or he or she can hold the bag with one hand while the other hand grasps the candy and places it in the container. If their bag or bucket gets too heavy, you can bring along a larger bag to dump their candy into that a caregiver or sibling carries for them.

After you get all of the candy home, opening the wrappers can be challenging for many children. Tearable small paper bags of candies are often easier to open than candy bar wrappers that are fitted tightly to the candy. If the wrappers are too difficult to open, an adult can get it started with a small tear. Your child may also benefit from cues for where to put their hands. Older kids may have more success opening candy bars independently with a small pair of scissors.

If you have a topic or questions that you would like the Helping Hands blog to address, please email HelpingHands@kennedykrieger.org.

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