All Hallows Eve is a time of fun that kids and adults look forward to each autumn. Costumes are fretted over, spooky masked faces appear in the neighborhood, and – most importantly – goblins on the prowl repeating “trick-or-treat” at each door are hauling in a year’s worth of the best candy. Yet not every kid is comfortable with the holiday: Those on the Autism spectrum tend to have a more difficult time enjoying themselves.
Now parents are trying a new approach to ensure all kids have a more enjoyable trick-or-treating experience. It’s a simple blue pumpkin candy bucket in a trick or treater’s hand. The phenomenon took off last year after one mom, Alicia Plumer, shared an image of a blue Halloween bucket on social media, announcing her older autistic son would be carrying the item while making the rounds in their neighborhood.
It is an easy and tactful way to distinguish children on the spectrum. Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association agrees:
“For those who choose to use them, the blue buckets could provide a subtle, dignified way of alerting people that this child or young adult may not be able to make eye contact, or tolerate wearing a mask, or even say ‘thank you’, but they certainly deserve to enjoy the fun of Halloween as much as everyone else.”
This year, another mom is sharing her story on social media to promote the blue pumpkin bucket. Omairis Taylor explained that the year prior, good intentioned candy givers would expect her young son, Luke, to say, “trick-or-treat.” It became an awkward and repetitive embarrassment for Luke, who is non-verbal:
“He was getting frustrated, and it was just too much. It was like an overload for him. They weren’t being rude at all. Just trying to get the kids to enjoy the holiday. And I had to be like, ‘Hey, my son is not being rude. He’s very particular with the candy.’”
As Taylor explained to USA Today, “At that point I was like, he’s going to enjoy it, make memories. He’s going to feel normal … I want him to just be able to grab his bucket and go.”
According to the World Health Organization, “1 in 6 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASDs begin in childhood and tend to persist into adolescence and adulthood.” With the presence of mind for a fun-for-all holiday, adding a touch of blue to Halloween may open doors for all kids.
This year with a blue bucket, neighbors will know not to expect a traditional trick-or-treater. Taylor and Luke have been practicing all year for how to handle Halloween, and they aren’t alone. Other parents have reached out to share their stories and ideas on how to make the holiday fun for all kids. And the blue pumpkin bucket has become unofficial symbol for Autism awareness. As scientist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”