I’m Still Learning to Speak but Trick or Treat!

Not everyone understands what it’s like to go trick-or-treating with a child who’s still learning to talk, but if you’re prepared, the day may go better than you expect and your child will have fun!

If you’d like, go with a group so it’s less obvious your child is still learning to talk.  Practice what will happen before Halloween including wearing the costume, ringing the bell, saying, “trick-or-treat” and “thank you.” If your child is nonverbal, use an alternative means of communication.  Perhaps have the following taped to your child’s pumpkin.  Click here for a full size version to print out.

"I am learning to speak, Trick or Treat" suggestions and activities for Halloween

When A Child Answered The Door…

Tanner was around three and a half and we were going from house to house where I modeled each word as Tanner (alias purple Telly Tubby at the time) attempted to repeat:

  • “trick”=”ti”
  • “or”=”ah”
  • “treat”=”teet”

At most houses, adults smiled and handed Tanner the candy. Then, a child answered the door “Why can’t he talk?” In as bubbly a voice as I could, I said “Oh -he’s learning to talk still and he’s doing great!” The catch phrase I highly recommend that works for almost any situation… well except this one.

The child then asked “How old is he?” and I answered still smiling, wondering where this child’s mother was, “He’s ‘only’ three”   Quickly the child responded “Well I’m three and I can talk,” so I said “Well you’re obviously very advanced for you age aren’t you!” Thankfully the mother came to the door to shoo her son away just when the child started to inform us about all the other three-year-olds at preschool that talk.

A Bunch Is The Trick

We took our daughter with a bunch of friends who said trick-or-treat so it didn’t matter that she didn’t. When my daughter got separated from them, I was with her and prompted her to say it hoping she’d repeat it. She didn’t, but people didn’t care. She hadn’t quite figured out to hold the bag open for candy. She had it bunched up so it was closed in one hand, and took whatever it was in her other hand. I’d have to remind her to put it in the bag. All people saw was a little kid trick or treating just starting to get the hang of it. They didn’t care that she didn’t talk.

A couple of times, she answered when asked who she was dressed as, and I translated since it came out as “da-ra.” But a lot of people understood she was saying Dora and that was great. Mostly she didn’t say anything, just stood there with her bag and smiled.

Too Shy To Halloween

Last year was the first year my son really went trick-or-treating. We went with our neighbors so it was a four-year-old, my son who has apraxia at three and a half, and a 10- and 11-month-old (pulled in wagons). Each adult held a baby as the two older boys raced for the doorbell. But once the door was open, they were too shy to say anything so the adults said “Trick-or-Treat” and the four-year-old said a soft thank you and Justin did a sign language thank you.

No explanations necessary except maybe a quick shrug and a “he’s still new at this – maybe next year.” They only lasted for five houses, but had fun and no one reacted with anything but remarks about how cute they were.

Most people realize that young children can be very shy (communication disorder or not), especially when in awe of the process of Halloween. If you run into anyone with rude comments, you’ll know which houses to avoid next year. Or which ones to TP – just kidding! <wink> Hope you have a great time!

batman-pinFree Halloween Speech Therapy

Halloween can be great “free” speech therapy. I was SO nervous as to how he’d approach Halloween this year. He did great last year, but now that I understand his apraxia and sensory issues…I thought he’d find it tough to take.

On the contrary! My son loved going door-to-door on Sunday (in our town, we do trick-treating on the Sunday before Halloween during 1:00-4:00). He said “tick o teat” to the neighbors, and then “a- you” for thank you when he got his candy. He never said any of this before.

Not ONE person noticed a speech delay or that there was any issue with him! This also helped him work with his “shyness” of strangers… and then he loved passing out candy to others at our house. He said “hi” and “bye” and responded to people asking what he was going to be for Halloween, which was “Tom” (Thomas the Tank) said very clearly. I’m more excited over the fact that he responded so naturally!

Then, last night…he wanted some of the millions of candy we now have in our house. He could say “candy” before any other word, so that was very intelligible, but last night, he said/signed, “I want candy!”

This is our first official phrase! I don’t know if I’m making too much out of this or if it’s the beginning of good things to come and more talking. My fingers are crossed!

That’s all for now, and for all of you who will be trick-treating soon, have fun!


Halloween Song Sung To The Tune Of “Wheels On The Bus”

The cat in the house says “Hiss! Hiss! Hiss!”
“Hiss! Hiss! Hiss!”
“Hiss! Hiss! Hiss!”
The cat in the house says “Hiss! Hiss! Hiss!”
On Halloween.

The owl in the house says “Who Who Who!”
“Who Who Who!”
“Who Who Who!”
The owl in the house says “Who Who Who!”
On Halloween.

The spider in the house says “Spin! Spin! Spin!”
“Spin! Spin! Spin!”
“Spin! Spin! Spin!”
The spider in the house says “Spin! Spin! Spin!”
On Halloween.

The ghost in the house says “Boo! Boo! Boo!”
“Boo! Boo! Boo!”
“Boo! Boo! Boo!”
The ghost in the house says“Boo! Boo! Boo!”
On Halloween.

The kid in the house says! “Trick or Treat!”
“Trick or Treat!”
“Trick or Treat!”
The Kid in the house says “Trick or Treat!”
On Halloween.


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