Let’s NOT Do Blue This Halloween

There’s been a lot of chatter on the ‘Net about multi-colored pumpkins, and pumpkin buckets for Halloween this year. Teal Buckets, Teal Pumpkins, Blue Buckets, Blue Pumpkins…

Teal Pumpkins are all about food allergies. A Teal Pumpkin on a doorstep means that the home offers food-allergen free goodies to Trick or Treaters. There’s a lot more to them than that, though. The Teal Pumpkin Project is sponsored by the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) group to “raise awareness of food allergies and promote inclusion of all trick-or-treaters” on Halloween. If you are going to offer food-allergen free goodies, and I personally think this is a great way to go overall for Halloween, you can go online and add your home to the Teal Pumpkin Project Map. This tells parents where they can take their ghouls, goblins, and ghosts if one of them has, say, a peanut allergy.

Blue Pumpkin Buckets, which children carry as they go trick or treating, are all about Autism. The idea is great: alert the homes Captain America trick or treats at that he is Autistic, and therefore, may shy away from you, or not say anything at all; tell folks giving out candy not to shy away from the 22 year old, 6’3 Batman standing at their door. Many Autistic people are non-verbal. There are also those that are emotionally and socially years younger than they are chronologically.

Honestly, I don’t understand why we need multi-colored anything to promote awareness and inclusivity. I know the reason why. I just don’t get why the reason exists anymore. People come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, genders, gender identities, abilities, and disabilities. After roughly 7,000 years living in organized societies, we should be well past batting an eye at these things.

Since the world does not function according to my idiosyncratic belief that we should just notice someone’s differences, not be suspicious of them, and move on with being kind to everyone, I support awareness. I especially support awareness of “invisible” disabilities, such as Autism, and yes, I believe that for some, Autism is a disability. Autism’s outward characteristics: meltdowns due to sensory overload, the inability to communicate verbally or even just to make eye contact, social awkwardness, and the inability to selectively filter which parts of your environment you are aware of in any given moment can, at least partially, disable a person’s ability to function in society.

Back to my point about multi-colored pumpkins and buckets for Halloween. I can definitely see the value of the Teal Pumpkin Project. I do not see any value to Blue Pumpkin Buckets.

  • Not because I have Asperger’s and cheerfully managed to collect scads of candy in my childhood mostly without making eye contact.
  • Not because my Autistic son collected scads of candy in his childhood.
  • Not because blue is the color of Autism Speaks, which many Autistic people do not support.
  • Not because over the last year I have realized the potential ramifications to his future of discussing a my son’s diagnosis online.
  • Not because I think a mom who does discuss their child’s disability online is necessarily wrong. Online support groups have been around a long time, and serve a valuable purpose.

Here’s why: a Teal Pumpkin is something at sits inert on a porch or doorstep, in front of a locked door. A Teal Pumpkin does not reveal anything potentially damaging about the people behind that door to the rest of the world.

A Blue Bucket carried in the hands of an Autistic child is not inert. A Blue Bucket is a beacon. It signifies to child predators that here is potentially easy prey, now or in the future.

All children are vulnerable. No matter how well versed by their parents on the dangers of the world and how to avoid them, if an adult is determined to hurt a child, that adult can. No child should trick or treat alone, with an older sibling, or even with a group of their peers. Even in a well known neighborhood, a parent should always be standing on the sidewalk at each house, watching. From there you can, with a look, silently let someone who does a doubletake at your non-verbal Spiderman know to give him candy.

A Blue Bucket also singles your child out. As parents, we know fitting in is a completely ridiculous concept and no one ever does. Children are still discovering that. They are still hurt when someone singles them out for being “different”.

Let Halloween – the one night when everyone is different – be the one time your Autistic child doesn’t feel like they don’t fit in.

–CMR

 

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