The Capital District’s Autism Society will hold its first annual Sensory-Friendly Trunk or Treat event, where kids can come and enjoy Halloween without the jumps and scares.
The event is designed to stimulate sensory reactions, keeping the kids calm and interested during Halloween time. Free of charge, it will take place on Thursday, Oct. 30, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Spotted Zebra Learning Center, 26 Computer Drive East.
“We’re doing it in conjunction with Spotted Zebra,” said Lisa Janicke, the Autism Society’s Family Support Outreach Specialist. “We’re doing it in their parking lot, so the kids can go to each car and go trick-or-treating. The kids dress up in the costumes. Even if they don’t want to, it’s fine. I have a prize for the best-decorated trunk.”
Volunteers decorate their car trunks with anything from traditional Halloween sets, like a vampire’s castle or a spooky graveyard, to scenes from favorite movies.
“People can do whatever they want,” Janicke said. “I didn’t know a lot about it, so I started Googling images. This is all new for us, too.”
The kids will go around the parking lot at their own speed and stop at each decorated trunk for candy, or things like stamps and stickers. This way, Janicke said, the kids are less overwhelmed.
“No scary costumes, no scary decorations,” explained Janicke. “This is our first year trying. Some of the other Autism Societies did it last year. We’re trying to make things less scary and less over-stimulating for the kids to trick-or-treat without the scary stuff.”
The Spotted Zebra will also open up its Bizzy Bee Activity Center, a calming environment where kids can interact with sensory-based activities — such as fluffy pom-poms, felt on the walls and colored bubble lamps around the room — in order to help them develop everyday skills and functions.
Among other activities in the Center that will be available during Trunk or Treat, there will be the “Xtreme Board,” a surfboard surrounded by inflatable waves to improve strength and balance. The Omi Vista Interactive Floor projects patterns on the ground to jump, hop, or stomp on to complete various activities to stimulate cognitive functions.
“We’re going to be giving the kids tickets for each of the activities, so they can take turns doing the different things. Some kids may not want to touch certain things,” said Janicke.
Janicke said that on top of the Halloween fun and sensory activities in the Bizzy Bee Center, there will also be a book fair so kids will have something to read while they snack on their candy.
Since this is the Autism Society’s first year doing Trunk or Treat, Janicke said she has gotten “a little bit of a response” from volunteers who offered to decorate their cars, but she anticipated that the Society will see a lot more people next year as the word gets out.
For more information about the Albany’s Autism Society, you can visit its website at www.albanyautism.org. For questions regarding the event, contact Janicke at 355-2191 or [email protected].