“What do you say?”
It’s a common prompt parents offer to let a child know it’s time to say “please” or “thank you” – or, if it happens to be Oct. 31 and a kid in a costume is at your door, “trick or treat.” But it’s not necessarily a fair request, one parent recently pointed out in a Facebook post, since children with special needs such as autism may be non-verbal or otherwise unable to say it.
The mother, Omairis Taylor, wrote in the post that she encountered this issue last year while trick-or-treating with her 3-year-old son. After having to repeatedly explain why he didn’t say “trick or treat,” she decided to try to do something about it. She started the “blue bucket” trend – and she hopes it’ll catch on. So far, her post has been shared more than 154,000 times.
“This year we will be trying the BLUE BUCKET to signify he has autism,” Taylor wrote in the post. “Please allow him (or anyone with a BLUE BUCKET) to enjoy this day and don’t worry I’ll still say TRICK OR TREAT for him, I’ll get my mom candy tax later. This holiday is hard enough without any added stress. Thank you in advance.”
It’s one small way families can be more inclusive of children with special needs this Halloween season – and somewhat reminiscent of the Teal Pumpkin Project, which raises food allergy awareness on Halloween and encourages people in the community to offer an allergy-friendly treat.
Autism-friendly Halloween tips
Although Halloween festivities can be stress-inducing for people on the autism spectrum, it can also still be plenty of fun – especially with the right preparation, according to Autism Speaks. Here’s a look at five tips for making the night enjoyable for kids with autism.
1. Talk about what they’ll see
The sights and sounds kids are likely to experience on Halloween night can be overwhelming for any child. Remind your child that the decorations and sound effects are fake and silly, Autism Speaks recommends. If you know a certain house in the neighborhood has an overwhelming amount of decorations, it may be best to avoid that house.
2. Go prepared
Families may want to bring headphones or earplugs along while trick-or-treating to limit potentially uncomfortable loud noises, the organization notes.
3. Consider alternatives
Trick-or-treating in the neighborhood is a beloved tradition for many families, but children with special needs may find it too challenging. If that’s the case, look into trunk-or-treat events or other trick-or-treating events in a more controlled environment, Autism Speaks notes.
4. Start early
Depending on your community’s “official” trick-or-treating hours, you may have a better overall experience by limiting your trick-or-treating to the earliest possible timeframe. This could mean greater visibility before it gets dark out, fewer kids running around and fewer “scary” attractions at houses.
5. Take safety precautions
A flashlight is a must, according to Autism Speaks, and light-up shoes or glow-in-the-dark bracelets may also be a good idea. This is especially important if your child is prone to wandering off. Also remember that practice makes perfect, and some experts even recommend doing a trick-or-treating trial run before the big night.