Wed. Jan 19th, 2022
blue pumpkin
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If you meet a child trick or treating with a blue pumpkin bucket, it sends you a secret message. This deep indigo blue indicates that the child knocking on your door has autism or a sensory processing disorder.

Children who are on the autism spectrum want to join in the Halloween fun. However, the very experiences that make this a fun day for most little ones can cause sensory overload.

Close your eyes and imagine Halloween. The dim twilight hour, flashing orange lights, spooky noises, the crunch of fall leaves under your feet, the sweet smell of candy, the feel of a sweaty plastic mask, and seeing people wearing costumes all add up to too many stimuli for some people. The entire event engages all the senses.

Thus, all the things that make this spooky holiday so much fun can quickly cause children who have autism to become overstimulated. In turn, that agitation can cause an enjoyable occasion to become overwhelming–for both child and parent.

Suppose an autistic child can overcome all the initial sensory stimulation and embark on their trick-or-treat adventure. They ring your doorbell. You crack open the door and stare at them, waiting for them to utter the magic words. As you stare down at them, waiting patiently for the child to say “trick or treat,” the child might find engaging with you to be the last straw. Or, they might even be on the non-verbal end of the autism spectrum.

Mom or Dad or a sibling will likely step in and say the magic phrase at this point. In fact, they’ll probably also give you a hasty and awkward explanation or apology. You feel mortified or humbled. After all, you were joining the fun and didn’t mean any harm.

The blue pumpkin helps parents or guardians of children who have sensory processing disorders from this very situation.

About the Blue Pumpkin for Autism

The idea of the blue pumpkin gained popularity several years ago. However, awareness about it grew exponentially in 2019. That year, Omairis Taylor, a young mom from Puerto Rico, created a Facebook post that went viral. Not only did this post circulate her island, but it also made a significant impact throughout the entire United States.

Taylor’s viral post explained the following:

My son is 3 years old and has autism. He is nonverbal. Last year houses will wait for him to say TRICK OR TREAT in order for him to get a piece of candy and there I go explaining the situation for the next 5 blocks. This year we will be trying the BLUE BUCKET to signify he has autism. 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, ill get my mom candy tax later πŸ˜. This holiday is hard enough without any added stress. Thank you in advance.
P.s. I have made this post public in hopes you will share and get the BLUE BUCKET message out there for Autism Awareness and acceptance this HalloweenπŸ’™πŸŽƒπŸ’™πŸŽƒπŸ’™πŸŽƒπŸ’™

Omairis Taylor, Facebook post, October 13, 2019

A Bertie County Autism Advocate Explains a Little More About the Blue Pumpkin and Halloween

Before sharing the information about the blue pumpkin buckets with our readers, Bertie News touched base with a local autism expert and advocate to learn more. April Swain is the founder of I Am Me Child Development Center in Windsor and strives to create awareness of the need for autism resources in Bertie County. Additionally, Swain holds Level 2 Triple P Positive Parenting certification.

Swain concurs that the blue pumpkin basket strategy is an essential tool for those who have children with sensory processing disorders.

The blue pumpkins help to identify how to best approach them. Children with autism still love many of the same things as a regular developing child. However, they may need a different method of communication. As adults it’s our responsibility to advocate for our children until they are able to advocate for themselves.”

April Swain, I Am Me Child Development Center

Other Halloween Resources for Parents of Autistic Children

If you have a child or grandchild on the autism spectrum, check out All About Halloween, a free resource guide from Autism Speaks. This publication from their team of experts provides tips to help you support your little one during their spooky adventure.

Besides autism, sensory processing disorders co-occur with Asperger’s Disease, mental illness, or ADHD (among others). The parent may not feel compelled to stop and explain. Regardless of the diagnosis, they will likely use the colorul blue bucket to signal to you that their child has special needs while keeping intact dignity for all. Let the Halloween fun begin…and be sure to subscribe to follow Bertie News on Facebook for local stories.

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