PLAINFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Blue pumpkin buckets are making Hallowen a little sweeter for kids with autism.
Trick or treating can be a fun experience for some children, but not necessarily for those who have trouble communicating.
You may be seeing some blue pumpkins mixed with the traditional orange this year. Blue pumpkin candy buckets are meant to raise awareness that a child or teenager may have autism, and in some cases they may be nonverbal, so they may not be able to say the traditional “trick or treat” Halloween line.
“Once you realize the child seems apprehensive, not really communicating well, not giving you good eye contact, that’s a sign,” said Taleana Williams-Hurst, president and CEO of Wally N’ Zavy’s Autistic Kids Can Do, and advocacy group.
She says some people also put blue lights outside their houses to welcome those with autism to stop by.
“It’s important because we want them to feel a part of society,” she said.
The word about blue pumpkins is spreading fast on social media fast after Omairis Taylor, a mom from Hawaii, posted what she calls her “blue bucket message” on Facebook. In it she says her 3-year-old son Luke has autism and is nonverbal. Last year, candy givers waited for him to say “trick or treat” in order to get a piece of candy, and she had to keep stepping in to explain.
This year, she hopes the blue bucket will be an automatic message to people.
“It was so hard to see him struggling, going house-to-house and getting frustrated,” she told CBS2’s Meg Baker. “I’m just trying to improve my son’s experience this year, and to help other parents who are like me. Just trying to figure out methods to improve children’s quality of life and holidays.”
Suzanne Buchanan with Autism NJ says it’s important to realize that not every child has spoken language, and may not interact in typical ways. One in 59 children in the U.S. is on the spectrum.
“Here in New Jersey it’s the highest prevalence at one in 34, so most likely you’re going to get some trick-or-treaters with autism,” said Buchanan.
She also says you may see some adolescents or young adults with autism at your door. She hopes people are just as warm and welcoming to these larger trick or treaters who are enjoying the holiday.
People do not want to mix this initiative up with the teal pumpkin project, which is meant to raise awareness for food allergies.