Leading National Behavioral Healthcare Provider

Call 1-800-345-1292

Tweet Share on LinkedIn Send email Print

Five Tips and Tricks for a Safe and Sweet Halloween with your Child with Autism

by Amy Kelly, Director of Family & Community Services, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health

As a mother of three children – including a daughter who has severe autism – I understand all too well about the challenges holidays bring, including Halloween.

Halloween can create a unique set of issues to individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The following tips can help guide you and your family to a safe and sweet Halloween this season!

  1. SAFETY: Not all kids with autism are comfortable with the dark – especially walking around at night. Use flashlights, glow sticks and light-up sneakers to make it more fun and safe. Before you go, snap a picture of your child in his or her costume with your cell phone so you have the most up to date picture – in case your child wanders off. And don't forget, there's safety in numbers. Try to trick-or-treat with another family to have an extra set of eyes, ears and hands to help out.
  2. STRATEGY: Kids with autism do better when they have a routine and know what to expect. Plan the route you will walk ahead of time, which neighbors and houses you will visit, and practice walking the route a day or two before the event. Also, create a back-up plan to stop or address an emergency tantrum should something unexpected arise. If your child is especially low tone or doesn’t have a lot of stamina for walking, limit the number of houses you visit while it's still fun – and before you get to the exhaustion stage.
  3. SOCIAL SKILLS: The first few years I took her trick or treating, my daughter would just waltz into our neighbors’ homes after ringing their doorbell and stuff her cute face with candy. She did not understand that the open door wasn’t an invitation to come inside. Teaching proper social etiquette is a very important part of a successful Halloween, including: not entering the house, not taking more than one or two pieces of candy, and always using manners.
  4. SCRIPTING: Have you ever thought about what the words “trick or treat” really mean? Your child with ASD may ask this question. If he or she is into history, Google the phrase and look up the origin of this saying. You can also work on teaching your child to say “trick or treat” to the best of his or her ability. If your child can’t speak, teach him or her to hold out the candy bag while you say it (to feel successful), and to remember their manners by saying (or signing) “thank you.” Make it work for them, whatever version that looks like.
  5. SENSORY: Halloween is all about the costume, which can pose a huge difficulty for our kids on the spectrum with sensory issues. If your child is open to wearing a costume, try to find a looser, more comfortable costume – perhaps one that fits over more comfortable clothing. If they just can't handle a costume, don't fret … a unique shirt or hat works just fine! And feel free to wear no costume. Many people are quick to understand that some kids just can't handle it. And if you’re comfortable, it could be an opportunity for autism awareness. (“My daughter Annie has autism and doesn’t like to dress up, but she sure likes candy!”)

  Devereux Georgia hosts Young Southeast Asian Leaders Institute Fellows

Through a partnership with Kennesaw State University, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Georgia recently hosted several Young Southeast Asian Leaders Institute (YSEALI) Fellows on its Kennesaw, Ga., campus for a tour and community project.

  Talking Shop with Crazy Aaron’s Founder Aaron Muderick

Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty founder and CEO Aaron Muderick has been dedicated to employing and empowering individuals with disabilities. Today, Muderick employs more than 800 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Recently, Muderick caught up with Devereux Senior Vice President of External Affairs Leah Yaw to talk putty, people and perspective.

  Devereux Pennsylvania Career Day event helps youth craft a vision for the future

During a “Career Day” event at the Devereux Pennsylvania Children’s Behavioral Health Services center in Glenmoore, Pa., more than 40 high school students received words of wisdom and encouragement from members of Fairview Presbyterian Church.

  AACAP launches mentorship award in honor of Devereux’s Dr. Marilyn Benoit

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) recently established the inaugural “AACAP Marilyn B. Benoit, MD, Child Maltreatment Mentorship Award” named in honor of Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marilyn Benoit.

  $250,000 Gift brings Devereux Texas closer to recovery

Six months after Hurricane Harvey’s devastating blow to Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Texas, a donation has the nonprofit on firmer footing for its path to recovery. Recently, the Valero Energy Foundation presented Devereux Texas with a check for $250,000 to benefit the organization’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

  Devereux earns prestigious certification to further exceptional foster care services

The Devereux Pennsylvania Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services (CIDDS) Community Services of Philadelphia Foster Care Program and the Devereux Center for Effective Schools were recently certified in the Together Facing the Challenge evidence-based model for therapeutic foster care.

  Devereux certifies first ‘safe’ foster homes for sexually exploited youth in Central Florida

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida recently announced the certification of two foster families as “official safe homes” - providing special assistance and support for sexually exploited youth in Central Florida.

  Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association names Dr. Yolanda Graham ‘Psychiatrist of the Year’

During the GPPA’s annual winter meeting, the association unanimously bestowed the award on Dr. Yolanda Graham, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s national executive director of mental health services and Devereux Georgia medical director.

  Devereux N.J. receives large donation of personal hygiene supplies from Autism N.J.

Thanks to Autism New Jersey and Amazon, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health New Jersey was the recipient of a large donation of personal hygiene products - more than 1,300 items! - that will be used to support the individuals it serves every day.

  Devereux Pocono receives $3,000 donation from NBT Bank

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Pocono recently received $3,000 from NBT Bank through the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program.

  Devereux program sees positive outcome for individuals at N.J. group home

At Devereux, our employees work tirelessly, every day, to help the individuals we serve lead productive, positive and socially-connected lives. Recently, Devereux New Jersey team members witnessed extremely rewarding outcomes as a result of implementing the “Devereux Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports” (D-PBIS) methodology in one of its groups homes.

  Devereux Texas campuses recover following Hurricane Harvey

It took a village … but our Devereux Texas campuses are kicking off the New Year in their facilities which, last August, were fully evacuated and significantly damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

  What Olympic athletes can teach us about autism

Olympic athletes are inspiring, uplifting and an example of what can be accomplished through hard work and dedication. These athletes also give us powerful insight into the lives of those with autism. Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Executive Director - Autism Services Todd Harris, Ph.D., explains why the cornerstones of athletic success are similar for individuals with autism.

  Devereux Florida honored by surprise $15,000 donation

At an end-of-year event sponsored by the Medical Executive Committee of the Florida Hospital System, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida was awarded a donation of $15,000.

  Adoption completes family just in time for holidays

Learn more about Devereux Arizona foster parents Sydni and Emery Engle - and their adoption journey - in this Arizona Daily Star article.

  Devereux’s Carl E. Clark II helps RCPA ‘chart the future’ by listening

Earlier this year, the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association created a Steering Committee to guide the organization’s future direction through a deepened understanding of what its members value and find important. RCPA represents providers of health and human services (like Devereux) who are committed to effective, efficient and high-quality care.

  Sarah Ellen Lenahan receives Main Line Chamber ‘Chairman’s Award’

The Main Line Chamber of Commerce recently honored Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Organizational Development Practitioner Sarah Ellen Lenahan with its 2017 “Chairman’s Award.”

  Main Line Today article puts the spotlight on Robert Kreider’s 23-year legacy at Devereux

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health President and CEO Robert Q. Kreider was featured recently in a Main Line Today article that puts a spotlight on his 23-year legacy at the organization.

  Todd Harris shares PBIS data and outcomes at Paris Symposium

Devereux goes international! Executive Director of Autism Services Todd Harris, Ph.D., was a presenter at the Association for Behavior Analysis International’s® Ninth International Conference, held November 14-15, in Paris.

  Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Appoints Renee Martin as the organization’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit providers of behavioral healthcare, today announced that its Board of Directors named Renee Martin, J.D., R.N., M.S.N. as the organization’s new senior vice president and general counsel, effective Dec. 4, 2017.

  Devereux’s Hope Gala raises more than $700,000 for children and adults with special needs

Nearly 600 guests experienced a magical evening during Devereux Pennsylvania’s annual Hope Gala on November 11 at The Fillmore in Philadelphia.

  Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health appoints Carl E. Clark II as seventh president and chief executive officer in 105-year-history

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, one of the oldest, largest, and most-respected nonprofit providers of behavioral healthcare in the nation, announced today its Board of Trustees has appointed Carl E. Clark II as its new President and Chief Executive Officer.

  Giving thanks: Celebrating Thanksgiving with your Child with Autism

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends, and to give thanks for the many gifts we experience in our lives.

  Devereux Arizona’s Lane Barker Captures C-Suite Award

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Arizona Executive Director Lane Barker was recently named Phoenix Business Journal's “CEO of the Year” in its inaugural “C-Suite Awards” event on October 19.

  Crucial Considerations When Conducting an Organizational Rebrand

A strong brand is one of an organization’s greatest assets. Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Senior Vice President of External Affairs Leah Yaw shares points to consider for nonprofit organizations looking to refresh or enhance their brands.

  New York Magazine article features Devereux AZ parents’ foster care journey

According to Sharicka McHenry’s life plan, she’d be married with children by the time she was 30. But by the time she and her wife, Donna, both found out they were medically unable to have biological children, Sharicka was 37. Click here to read this New York Magazine article about Devereux Arizona parents Sharicka and Donna McHenry - and their foster care journey.

  Devereux President and CEO Bob Kreider featured on Comcast Newsmakers

In September, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health President and CEO Robert Q. Kreider appeared on Comcast Newsmakers, where he shared information about the organization, his achievements as president and CEO, and details about the organization’s annual Hope Gala on November 11.

  Megan Russell-Currie appointed to APA Integrated Health Care Alliance Advisory Board

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Director of Clinical and Professional Affairs Megan Russell-Currie was recently appointed to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Integrated Health Care Alliance Advisory Board.

  Rayni Brindley joins RCPA Steering Committee to prioritize quality of care for children’s services

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Vice President of Operations and Organizational Development Rayni Brindley was recently selected to join the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association (RCPA) Children’s Steering Committee.

  Hurricane Harvey Relief

Hurricane Harvey has been devastating to the residents of Texas both in Houston / League City and Victoria, where Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health has programs.

  Devereux celebrates Direct Support Professionals Week

At Devereux, our direct support professionals are the lifeblood of our organization. During Direct Support Professionals Week (DSP) - September 10-16 - Devereux recognizes and celebrates its DSPs’ efforts to bring help and healing to the individuals we serve every day.

  Devereux’s Early Childhood Assessment Program turns everyday interactions into lifelong skills

The Devereux Center for Resilient Children’s “Devereux Early Childhood Assessment” (DECA) Program provides teachers and families with a strength-based assessment and planning system designed to promote resilience in children ages four weeks to six-years-old.

  ‘Success Through A Change In Perspective’ - Advice From Robert Kreider

OPEN MINDS recently caught up with Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health President and CEO Bob Kreider to get his thoughts on leadership. Answering three questions, Bob highlighted the importance of getting involved in an organization’s culture, focusing on budget process and listening to employees at all levels of the organization.

  Devereux: Providing compassionate care and evidence-based practices for 100+ years

In this Philadelphia Medicine Magazine article, Senior Vice President of External Affairs Leah Yaw shares information about the more than 100-year history and evolution of Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health. (see pgs. 18-21).

  Launching an organizational rebrand? Here's some crucial considerations

In this Philadelphia Business Journal article, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Carl Clark and Senior Vice President of External Affairs Leah Yaw offer advice and items to consider for any organization undergoing a rebranding effort.

  Amy Kelly gives a voice to families through American Board of Pediatrics Foundation project

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Director of Family and Community Services Amy Kelly was recently selected to participate in a new mental health initiative sponsored by the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). The project focuses on better understanding the emotional support and mental health needs of patients and families dealing with a chronic illness.

  Former Devereux student shares her high school experience

“Devereux taught me that I am appreciated and that I do matter,” said Shante Chapman, a former Devereux Day School student. When Shante was younger, she was labeled a “brawler” who was prone to bouts of anger and fighting. After her freshman year in high school, she and her family made the decision to continue her high school education at the Devereux Day School in Pennsylvania.

  2017 Golf & Tennis Classic generates nearly $120,000 for Devereux PA programs

Devereux Pennsylvania’s 30th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic - held at the Philadelphia Cricket Club and the Whitemarsh Valley Country Club - included a golf and tennis tournament, along with live and silent auctions and a cocktail/dinner reception for attendees.

  Devereux article on Positive Behavior Support featured in Fostering Families Today

An article written by Devereux employees - Rachel Eisenberg, Ph.D.; Laura Rutherford, Ph.D.; and Barry McCurdy, Ph.D. - was recently featured in Fostering Families Today magazine. The focus: Positive Behavior Support in treatment foster care.

  Devereux Senior Vice President and COO Carl E. Clark II Elected to RCPA Board

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit providers of behavioral healthcare, announced that Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Carl E. Clark II was elected to the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association’s (RCPA) Board of Directors.

  Tips for Navigating the Special Needs World with Your Child’s Doctor

In a two-part series about fostering strong relationships between physicians and children with special needs, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Director of Family and Community Services Amy Kelly shares her experiences - Tips for Navigating the Special Needs World with Your Child’s Doctor - with’s Healthy Kids Blog.

  Devereux celebrates teachers and nurses during recognition weeks

At Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, we celebrate our nurses and teachers all year long. But during National Nurses Week and National Teacher Appreciation Week, we really want to give our nurses and teachers a special shout out!

  Adoption brings the gift of family to four siblings in foster care

Donna and Sharicka McHenry were satisfied with their lives in Phoenix, Ariz., but something was missing. “We always wanted children,” said Donna. “We wanted one of our own, but we also knew we would go through the foster care process because there are nearly 18,000 children living in the child welfare system in Arizona.” The couple are now parents to four siblings who previously were in foster care.

  Devereux Announces 2018 Retirement of President and CEO,
Robert Q. Kreider

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit providers of behavioral healthcare, recently announced that Robert Q. Kreider, President and CEO, will retire in January 2018, following more than 20 years of extraordinary service.

  Nearly 300 attend N.Y. screening of Oscar-nominated movie Life, Animated

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s special screening of the movie Life, Animated was presented to a near sell-out crowd on February 13 in Pelham, N.Y. The event, held in partnership with The Picture House, was followed by a Q&A session with Ron and Cornelia Suskind, the parents featured in the film.

  How Art and a Zoo Help Students with Differences Learn Positive and Healing Behaviors

When working to improve educational outcomes for students with learning differences, it is essential to focus on cultivating behaviors that will equip each student to reach his or her true potential. At Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s Leo Kanner Learning Center, creative forms of learning are taking center stage when it comes to building confidence, generating positive behaviors and putting children with differences on a level playing field.

  New Social Enterprise Aperture Education Focuses on Students’ Social and Emotional Competence

Assessment company Apperson, Inc., and the Devereux Center for Resilient Children a prevention-focused service of the nonprofit organization Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health today announced the launch of a new company, Aperture Education, that provides strength-based assessments and resilience-building resources to help schools and out-of-school-time organizations address the whole child.

  Devereux leaders featured in FFTA newsletter; share insight into launching a rebrand

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health leaders Senior Vice President of External Affairs Leah Yaw and Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Carl Clark were featured in a recent issue of the Family Focused Treatment Association’s newsletter - FOCUS. The topic: launching an organizational rebrand.

  Dr. Barry McCurdy elected to APBS Board of Directors

Devereux Center for Effective Schools Director Dr. Barry McCurdy was recently appointed to the Association for Positive Behavior Support (APBS) Board of Directors. Dr. McCurdy was elected by his peers to serve a three-year term (2017-2020).