Beacon Stories

Oct 20, 2013

Just How Tricky Halloween Can Be

For those with night blindness, a symptom of many retinal diseases, most notably retinitis pigmentosa, or RP, navigating a trick-or-treating throng can be, well, a nightmare.

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by Rich Shea

Photo of Halloween candy.

For most of us, Halloween’s a no-brainer. You dress up, run around the neighborhood with your friends and collect a bagful of candy that’ll last you weeks. But for those with night blindness, a symptom of many retinal diseases, most notably retinitis pigmentosa, or RP, navigating a trick-or-treating throng can be, well, a nightmare.

Last week, with Halloween approaching, we asked our Facebook followers whether this was an issue—and, if so how they deal with it. The response was overwhelming, with more than 40 people sharing their frustrations, practical tips and, in a few cases, senses of humor. Below is a sampling of those comments as well as a link to the post itself.

“My 5-year-old boy has no vision. Never has. He walks up to each house with his cane, but we travel from house to house in a wagon. Easy in/out. It’s helped us a lot, and he doesn’t miss out on the fun.”

“My daughter cannot see at night. We try to trick-or-treat in well-lit areas. Of course, it always gets dark before we’re finished, but she holds my hand and allows me to guide her, telling her how many steps and where there’s a curb.”

“My son has RP and is now 17. He is completely night blind, but this has not stopped him from trick-or-treating. Walk in groups, have well-lit flashlights or head lamps. Once they get older, it is easier, especially with someone leading them. Don’t let disabilities prevent your children from enjoying life. The more you push them, the better they will learn to deal with RP and night blindness.”

“As a mom, it affects me while taking my girls out. We try to leave right away, before it gets too dark. And then I go back while my husband finishes with them. I’m the one with the night blindness.”

“Our family goes trick-or-treating at a local strip mall/shopping center. It has wide, well-lit sidewalks, and it is easy for them to find the doors to the business. We also all wear glow-stick necklaces. The contrast is easy to see at night.”

“My son has RP, and for the last two years has opted to help hand out with the candy rather than trick-or-treat.”

“My 13-year-old really didn’t like trick-or-treating in our old neighborhood because we would be with a huge group of young kids running house to house, and he couldn’t keep up. We let him make a haunted house and stay home to run it with one of us. Now we go to a small dinner party, and he loves trick-or-treating with his five or six friends since they will go slower with him. But he would rather still make a haunted house and hang out in one spot if he could.”

“It was Megan’s first trick-or-treating Halloween that we discovered her night blindness and subsequently found she had Usher syndrome.”

“I’m the one with the RP. My husband has always taken our kids trick-or-treating. I’m the one peering into the darkness, candy bowl in hand, hoping I don’t inadvertently stiff some poor tyke.”

“I leave the candy outside the door because I cannot see who is knocking at the door.”

“When my son was younger, I took a bright flashlight and walked with him, holding on to him till he was at the door, and then I would step back.”

“I ran into many mailboxes in my childhood while trick-or-treating. Night-vision goggles would fix this problem!”

“My RP makes it impossible for me to take my two girls out trick-or-treating, I feel bad that they are missing out.”

“Our 13-year-old son has RP. We have learned that large groups, lots of flashlights and glow sticks have worked well for us. It helps that he’s always had a close friend or cousin with him who understands his vision issue and can warn him ahead of time about stairs and bumpy sidewalks. We are going to enjoy this last round of trick-or-treating because it’s likely to be his last one—because his age, not his RP of course!”