Blue pumpkins helping children with autism enjoy Halloween

    A blue Halloween bucket has become an unofficial symbol of awareness for autism. If you see a trick-or-treater holding a blue pumpkin candy bucket at your doorstep, it could mean the person is autistic.

    The phenomenon took off last year after Alicia Plumer shared an image of a blue Halloween bucket on social media announcing her autistic son would be carrying the item while trick-or-treating.

    “If you see someone who appears to be an adult dressed up to trick-or-treat this year carrying this blue bucket, he’s our son! His name is BJ & he is autistic. While he has the body of a 21 year old, he loves Halloween,” she posted on Facebook.

    “Please help us keep his spirit alive & happy. So when you see the blue bucket share a piece of candy. Spread awareness! These precious people are not “too big” to trick or treat,” she added.

    Plumer’s message received widespread attention on social media and has been shared nearly 28,000 times on Facebook since it was first posted last year on October 18.

    “This trend seems to be gaining momentum. As the general public becomes more aware of it, we think it could be a wonderful way for kids —the little ones and the bigger ones—to participate in Halloween festivities without the judgment that they sometimes face in social situations,” Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association, told Newsweek.

    “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,” she added.

    Plumer was inspired to start the blue bucket movement after hearing about the Teal Pumpkin Project, which was launched by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in 2014 to raise awareness of food allergies on Halloween and make the event “safer and more inclusive for all trick-or-treaters,” the FARE website stated, by having non-food items available for those who suffer from allergies.

    “Putting a teal pumpkin on your doorstep means you have non-food treats available, such as glow sticks or small toys. This simple act promotes inclusion for trick-or-treaters with food allergies or other conditions,” FARE stated.

    While the blue bucket phenomenon is not included in the official Halloween Guide from Autism Speaks, the autism advocacy group suggests wearing a badge or carrying a bag with a sign that indicates you are autistic.

    “1 in 6 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASDs begin in childhood and tend to persist into adolescence and adulthood. While some people with ASD can live independently, others have severe disabilities and require life-long care and support,” the World Health Organization (WHO) reports.

    “A cure for ASD is not available. Evidence-based psychosocial interventions, however, such as behavioral treatment and skills training programs for parents and other caregivers, can reduce difficulties in communication and social behavior, with a positive impact on the person’s well-being and quality of life,” according to WHO.

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