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Little children trick or treating with blue pumpkin for autism awareness and teal pumpkin on house stair case for food allergy awareness

Message in Teal & Blue Pumpkins (for Halloween Safety & Inclusivity)

By Amalah

On Halloween, pay attention to the pumpkins!

There are two really amazing initiatives to make Halloween trick-or-treating safer and more inclusive for more kids to be aware of this year.

1. Teal Pumpkins for Food Allergy Awareness

Halloween should be a little spooky, but not downright actually legit terrifying. For kids with food allergies, that “fun size” candy bar is a lot less fun when it could literally kill them. Most of the most popular candies contain a slew of common allergens — nuts, milk, soy, eggs, wheat, etc. — but the ingredient list (and subsequent warnings) is only on the outer bag, not on the individually-wrapped treats themselves. So unless a parent has an encyclopedic-level knowledge of what every possible candy contains, their kid is probably going to have most (if not all) of their haul tossed out at the end of the night. That. Sucks.

(And I say that as someone who routinely steals candy from my kids’ buckets, but still leaves them enough for at least two or three solid candy-binge stomachaches.)

The Teal Pumpkin Project asks that households consider these kiddos and offer non-food options for trick-or-treaters, and to signal that your home has those options by placing a teal pumpkin outside your door. (You can paint a real pumpkin, buy a plastic one, or download and print a free sign!) Put candy in one bowl and stickers, small toys, glow sticks, etc. in another, and let any kid (allergic or diet restricted or not!) choose their treat…without anyone having to announce their allergies or diet restrictions or feel any “different” than anyone else.  Here are some ideas for non-food Halloween treats.

If any parents aren’t familiar with the teal pumpkin, spread the word! The Teal Pumpkin Project was started by a mom of two boys, one of whom has a number of life-threatening food allergies, about seven years ago, and FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) started promoting the idea about four years ago. It’s a great way to let more children enjoy Halloween treats without the tricks. Or, you know, the risk of anaphylaxis.

2. Blue Pumpkins for Autism Awareness

If a trick-or-treater comes to your door bearing a blue pumpkin bucket, that’s a gentle signal that that child has Autism. They might be non-verbal and unable to say “trick or treat.” They might love to trick-or-treat but can’t tolerate a costume. They might be easily overwhelmed by bright, blinking or noisy decorations, take a bit longer to choose a candy, or might be a little (or a lot) older than your “typical” trick-or-treater. Once again, this is the brilliant brainchild of Moms Who’ve Been There, Done That.

I wish I’d thought of this, honestly! My oldest has ASD and we’ve struggled almost every Halloween until super recently. And now he’s 14 and humongously tall and getting a little borderline for trick-or-treating…RIGHT when he finally, completely enjoys it! For years we took him around in “costumes” that didn’t really look like costumes, had to explain to neighbors holding back the candy bowl that he probably wasn’t going to say “trick or treat,” or had to deal with him either 1) running away in screaming terror when some yard decoration lit up or popped up, or 2) doing other slightly oddball or unpredictable things like trying to take ALL the candy or walking into a stranger’s house to see what was on their TV or if they had any cool toys in their basement.

But we did it anyway, because he wanted the candy, and was simply doing his best to go along with the strange yearly ritual that would get him said candy.

(We always offered him the option of staying home and handing out candy, which he always agreed to…right up until the moment the first trick-or-treater showed up. Then he hated the sense of being left out and would rush to join his brothers outside.)

This year, he’s super excited to trick-or-treat around our neighborhood with his best friend. They will be dressed as Michael Myers and Pennywise. They will both be accompanied by me, from an acceptable omg-Mommmmmm-distance. And they will both carry pumpkin buckets.

Blue ones.

More on Halloween from Alpha Mom:

1. Everybody Gets Scared
2. Tell Me How to Feel About Jimmy Kimmel’s Halloween Candy Prank
3. How to Trick or Treat Safely

Photo source: Depositphotos/Rawpixel

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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MyriamIsabel KallmanLisa RoperJenn Recent comment authors
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Jenn
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Jenn

Hi Amalah! First thing, I love your blog and your column here…I was just wondering about the idea of the blue pumpkins, like should kids with ASD really have to out themselves to get common courtesy? The teal pumpkin puts the onus on the giver of candy to make sure non candy/safe treats are available. I read an article (https://www.scarymommy.com/not-on-board-blue-pumpkins-autistic-kids/?fbclid=IwAR0AVz7bAsfMAblbQdugroh1OsgqFjrTFSiIeFlN04yxKvDF-qvkxpz08Ok) That addressed the blue pumpkin thing. I absolutely don’t want to start an argument in any negative way, I just think that the kids with ASD should not have to label themselves to be treated with kindness and just be… Read more »

Isabel Kallman
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Thanks for sharing that perspective. I can see both sides. I think the parent should and can ultimately make the call for their kid; they are the expert of their child. (And, I wish the world was completely filled with kinder and understanding adults handing out Halloween treats, too.) Thanks again for sharing the alternative perspective. 🙂

Myriam
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Myriam

As the mom of a 6 yo on the spectrum, I think it’s normal for people to expect a “trick or treat”, or “thank you” for kids trick or treating. I think the “commun courtesy” goes both ways, for typical kids. I like the blue bucket, even though the kids have to out themselves, because it’s an explanation (not an excuse) for atypical behavior. Rather than question, most people will then simply accept the behavior. We are very open with daughter’s dx, so that applies to Halloween too. But I don’t think your perspective is wrong, just different, and different… Read more »

Lisa Roper
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Lisa Roper

If you are going with him, this doesn’t work as well, but I totally think big bro taking siblings around gets to trick or treat many more years than a kid without smaller ones in attendance 🙂