It's the only Halloween event geared for children with special needs in central Ohio.

It's the only Halloween event geared for children with special needs in central Ohio.

And in only its second year, the Columbus Speech and Hearing Center's Oct. 22 Halloween Hop is geared to build on the success of last year's inaugural event.

"Our primary goal is to promote the event better," Heather McCorkle, communications coordinator for the center, said last week. "We are very unique in what we do. We definitely want everyone in Columbus to know we are out here."

About 350 children with special needs joined their parents to participate in the first Halloween Hop, McCorkle said. The goal this time around, she added, is to host 350 families, or about 500 individuals.

The second Halloween Hop will run from 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 22 at the center, 510 E. North Broadway.

The first hop was a big hit, not only with the children and their parents but also with members of the staff who participated, said Heather Pliskin, director of speech services.

"It was amazing," Pliskin said. "A lot of our clients came through to the event last year. It was fun to see kids out of the typical therapy environment. It kind of lets their colors show through more. It's kind of a different level.

"To see the goals that we're teaching these kids kind of being generalized into a different environment was neat."

The Halloween Hop once again will be sponsored by the Safelite Foundation. Other corporations also will help out, and an Ohio State University sorority will send volunteers, McCorkle said.

"Trick-or-treating involves language skills, social interaction skills and the ability to follow a socially established routine," McCorkle wrote in announcing the Oct. 22 gathering. "Typical Halloween celebrations often include strobe lights, scary masks, unusual face paint, eerie sounds and darkness. The communication expectations ... along with these heightened sensory experiences can be overwhelming to a child with special needs, especially one who struggles with sensory issues.

"We created a Halloween experience that eliminates scary decorations, minimizes challenges that children with special needs might face and encourages participation at each child's own level and pace. In addition, we give educational packets to families on how to make Halloween a success, as well as strategies to make other everyday experiences and routines more successful."

"We really got such great feedback," Pliskin said of the 2015 Halloween Hop. "People loved the arts and crafts activities that we did last year. We really kept them simple and focused on the toddler age."

Trick-or-treat experiences on tap Oct. 22, according to McCorkle's announcement, include:

* Harvest themed Pumpkin Patch

* Five stations with non-food treat options for children with dietary restrictions

* Five stations with typical candy and food treats

* Stations decorated in a fun, non-scary way geared toward young children and those with special needs and/or sensory challenges

* Stations staffed with center staff and volunteers

* Halloween-themed obstacle course put together by speech-language pathologists

* Halloween-themed art activities led by a speech-language pathologist

* Several storytime sessions led by speech-language pathologists and volunteers.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1