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Halloween Treats for Children With Special Needs: Food Allergies, Sensitivities, Intolerances, Chronic Illness in Kids

Halloween kickoffs the season of holidays and heralds the beginning of fun and excitement as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year soon follow one another. At the onset of October, planning for Halloween parties begin and every party host puts in great efforts to make his or her party as hauntingly thrilling as possible. Planning has to be done on several fronts like sending Halloween invitations, arranging for decorations, deciding activities, games, party menu and costumes and so on. However, before embarking on the planning activities it is necessary to decide your Halloween party theme. All the other factors will be dependent on the theme you have chosen; if the party is for adults then the scary element can be heightened while a party for kids has to be a mix of fun and little amount of fright.

<p>Halloween may send kids in the neighborhood door-to-door in search of a tasty, fun treat. Homemade cookies, candied apples, and popcorn balls have now been replaced with prepackaged candies and toys due to safety reasons. However, children with special needs may not be able to enjoy the items in their treat bag because what they receive is unsafe for them.</p>

<p><b>Safe Treats for Youngest Children</b></p>

<p>Hard candies, nuts, and many small toys and foods present a choking hazard for the youngest pumpkins, Oompa Loompas, cats, and ghosts at the door. Sometimes the treat bag is more for Mom or Dad, who may be accompanying older children, but it is a nice touch to have a few treats on hand for the smallest children. A sticker or placing a stamp on a child’s hand may put a smile on the little trick-or-treater and their caregivers.</p>

<p><b>Ask About Special Needs for Expected Trick-or-Treaters</b></p>

<p>Parents of children who have special needs are often intimately educated about what their child can safely eat. Sometimes those needs change as children may outgrow certain allergies or develop additional sensitivities. Feel free to contact the child’s parents regarding the best choices for their current condition. The child might have a look of amazement when given her favorite treat that she can actually enjoy.</p>

<p>Children who have chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, a colostomy, cleft palate, GERD, swallowing problems or who are on special diets or receiving treatments like chemotherapy might particularly enjoy receiving a special treat that is appropriate to their needs. Some of these children may be unable to go trick-or-treating and would be thrilled to have their treat delivered to them in person or via mail or email. A simple handmade card might be sweeter than any treat that he receives for Halloween.</p>

<p><b>Most Common Food Allergens</b></p>

<p>If providing treats for children from the neighborhood, it is helpful to know a few basics regarding food allergies. Some children’s food allergies are so severe that they could experience life-threatening breathing problems if they inhale the air around or eat something that has been in the same bag with the allergen. For example, a child with a severe peanut or egg allergy might receive a piece of candy that does not contain peanuts or eggs in the ingredients, but if it has touched candies with peanuts or eggs, then the child could experience a potentially lethal allergic reaction if he eats it. The parents may let these children go trick-or-treating so that they can experience the fun with their friends, but these kids might not be allowed to eat the treats unless they know the food is safe for them to eat.</p>

<p>According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s article entitled “Food Allergies: What You Need to Know” the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 requires that FDA approved foods clearly list ingredients if they are one of the top eight allergens:</p>

<ol start=”1″ type=”1″><li>Milk</li>
<li>Eggs</li>
<li>Fish</li>
<li>Shellfish</li>
<li>Tree nuts</li>
<li>Peanuts</li>
<li>Wheat</li>
<li>Soybeans</li>
</ol><p>Although this labeling greatly helps those avoiding the top eight allergens, some children may experience problems from many other sources. For example, a child with celiac disease must avoid gluten, which includes wheat, but a food that is wheat-free is not necessarily gluten free. Some children are affected by tiny amounts of allergens from cross contamination during the manufacturing process. People with a latex allergy may have cross-sensitivities to foods. Treats containing corn may tend to cause behavior problems in some children, while some kids have multiple food allergies, sensitivities, or other special needs.</p>

<p>People who wish to provide Halloween treats for kids in the neighborhood might want to purchase a variety of treats, some of which do not contain the top allergens. Keeping them in separate containers would provide an added safety feature for any kids with severe allergies. Because celiac disease is being diagnosed more in children today, readers might find it helpful to look for ideas for gluten-free Halloween candy, or readers may look for labels on items that say that the product is gluten-free.</p>

<p><b>Making Halloween Fun for All Children</b></p>

<p>Children with special needs may find Halloween to be a bittersweet time of year. They may love to dress up and enjoy the thrill of trick-or-treating with their family and friends. Parents of children with special needs may teach their kids to smile and say thank you regardless of whether or not they can have the Halloween treat placed in their bag, so many people handing out candy never know if they are passing out treats that a child cannot have. These children and their parents often face these issues every holiday, celebration, or any other time that food is involved. People who make an extra effort to provide special treats for these special kids can often get the greatest treat of all – the satisfaction of letting a child know that you care.</p>

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