Tricks and Treats for a Happy Halloween!

Written by Charissa Devlin, RBT


IT’S FALL Y’ALL!! This means Halloween is fast approaching!

Did you know that applied behavior analysis (ABA) principles were at the heart of creating the holiday that we all know and love today? In 1938, in Des Moines, Iowa, police were called a record 550 times for reports of vandalism and various pranks on what was then called “Beggars’ Night.” The parks director at that time, Katherine Krieg, decided enough was enough and started a campaign to replace Beggars’ Night delinquency with Halloween fun. She rallied the community to reward the children with treats if they performed a trick. Within three years the police reported only 22 calls for vandalism! Katherine implemented an effective behavior change procedure that behavior professionals call a “DRA” or Differential Reinforcement of an Alternate Behavior. We can thank her for all the fun we enjoy today! However, Halloween fun can also be accompanied by anxiety and worry for parents who have a child with special needs. But don’t fret! With a little preparation and planning, you can make this Halloween a holiday that everyone will enjoy!

Tips for a successful Halloween:





Charissa Devlin, a Lead Behavior Technician, has a B.A. in Speech Sciences and Technology, with an emphasis in Special Education. Charissa has many years of experience working with students with autism, other developmental disabilities, as well as, adults with severe mental illness in both clinical settings and school settings. Charissa is currently pursuing my M.Ed. in Applied Behavior Analysis.

Charissa’s favorite part of working in this field is watching children grow and make strides toward progress every day. Charissa is excited to combine the knowledge of her undergrad studies and her master’s studies in an integrative approach for kids with disabilities.

published on Friday, October 19th, 2018