Halloween can be a time of joy and excitement for kids (and adults) of all ages. It can, however, be a stressful time for families, as well – especially for those who have children with autism or other developmental disabilities; or those with allergies.
If you happened to notice royal blue pumpkins at Champaign-Urbana area stores lately, you might have been wondering what they were or thought that they were a variation of the teal pumpkin project.
The teal pumpkin project strives to make Halloween trick or treating safer for children with food allergies by designating homes that provide non-food treats or allergen-friendly treats.
Blue has another meaning.
One mom’s idea to equip her son with a blue pumpkin bucket has grown into a national movement, as royal blue pumpkins are now associated with autism awareness. In that case, her son was 21 years old, but still was excited about participating in Halloween and hoped others would accept that.
While some parents are now equipping their children with teal or blue pumpkin trick-or-treating buckets, not all will have access to those – and not everyone will know what it means.
But many people are opting to display blue and teal pumpkins by their door to alert such families that their houses welcome all. (We have ideas on how to do that, below.)
- Paint pumpkins. A little bit of paint goes a long way! It could be a real pumpkin or a fake one. It doesn’t have to be large. Purchase blue and teal paint from a local craft store (just a few ounces is often less than $2) and get the whole family involved in the activity.
- Print out a poster, or make one, and post it. The Food Allergy Research and Education Teal Pumpkin Project website includes downloads for public use. There aren’t posters yet for blue pumpkins, but you could always print out a pumpkin coloring page and make it blue.
- Buy blue and teal pumpkin buckets (just note these are becoming increasingly more difficult to find in Champaign-Urbana area stores as this movement has become more viral).
For a child that is non-verbal, Halloween can be a night full of many emotions. There are many new sights, sounds, smells, foods, and transitions that children experience on Halloween.
These sensory experiences, along with the excitement of a night full of fun, are ones that can be made that much more successful by an inclusive community surrounding and supporting all of our children.
There’s no need to treat children differently, but consider that those with autism and/or other special needs:
- may have limited language, so requesting them to say please and thank you may overwhelm them.
- may come in their regular attire, as sensory or other issues limit their ability to tolerate wearing a costume.
- may have trouble making eye contact.
- may not have the motor coordination to take a piece of candy, so be prepare to hand it out.
Autism Speaks provides social stories and other helpful tips for those who wish to be more prepared for ALL trick-or-treaters this Halloween.
A few minutes of preparation and knowledge could mean the world to a child and their family by providing them a memorable and meaningful opportunity to be included in a well-loved childhood experience.
Looking for a Haunted House? Check out our Haunted Houses and Where to Get Scared for scarier activities for an older crowd.
Looking for Trunk or Treat events? See our post here.
Can’t wait for Trick or Treating? See our Area Trick or Treat Times.