30 October 2019 12:38

Autism World Autism Awareness Day Light It Up Blue

Families Spreading Autism Awareness During Halloween with Blue Pumpkins Share this... Linkedin Pinterest SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Halloween is just two days away. It's a time for children to go out and have fun but for some, it can be a challenge. Families of children with autism are trying to spread awareness, to help make the night fun for their kids too.

Among the trick-or-treaters at your doorstep this Halloween, you may notice blue Halloween pumpkins. Blue is the color of Autism Awareness, so if you see a child, teen, or even an adult at your front door with a blue pumpkin, it's a sign they might be autistic. "Halloween can be a challenge for a lot of reasons." Sarah Kessler is a mom of three and her two boys, 5-year-old Jens, and 3-year-old Ben, are both autistic. She shared with me some of the challenges of trick-or-treating. "They may not be able to speak with you.

They may not be able to say trick or treat, say thank you, explain to you what their costume is," says Sarah. "It's exciting which can be overstimulating. So, even if they're excited and happy about it, it can still trigger some behaviors that autistic kids deal with." Behaviors like anxiety, nervousness, and even melt downs-can be triggered by a number of things. "You go up to the door and ring the doorbell and someone comes to the door and opens it and he just walks right into their house," says Sarah. Jens and Ben have even been practicing their trick-or-treating during therapy at Behavioral Care Specialists in Sioux Falls.

"They might have a motion-activated witch at the door who all the sudden starts cackling and that can trigger a meltdown," says Sarah. Sarah says she thinks carrying the blue pumpkin pails will help. "It's a more obvious, very subtle way of saying 'we might have some different challenges." She says the biggest thing to remember, "be kind, to be patient, to not be judgmental. Maybe even offer to help." So if you do see someone at your door with a blue pumpkin, remember kindness and patience. Sarah also says the blue candy buckets could be helpful for those who may not have autism but a different disability as well. You can buy the buckets at many major retailers. Sarah got hers from Walmart. WESTON (WAOW)–Skylight Autism Center in Weston making sure children with autism are able to take part in the fun of Halloween. They're giving out blue Halloween buckets as a reminder that not all children are able to say "trick-or-treat." "We know that autism is gaining more awareness. This year, we wanted to show families that they can have the blue bucket and go trick-or-treating and the child doesn't have to say trick or treat because some of our kids on the spectrum have a communication deficit," said Alexis Legenza, the owner of Skylight Autism Center. "When you see someone coming along with a blue bucket we just want the community to be aware that they may be non-verbal." The buckets are being offered for free. You can pick them up through Halloween at the center, which is located at 4601 Camp Phillips Road. The streets of the Capital Region will soon be filled with goblins and ghouls. However, this Halloween, you may notice a few blue pumpkins as trick-or-treaters come door-to-door. Heather Walker's home in Schenectady is ready to welcome around 300 kids in costumes Thursday. "We are looking forward to dressing up, handing out trick or treats. I think that's me and my son's favorite, looking at all the costumes," Walker said. Heather's son Meki is 17 and on the autism spectrum. The holiday has always been a special tradition for the family. This year he'll be out collecting candy as an astronaut. "We take him trick or treating around the neighborhood, and then we come back and hand out candy to all the excited trick-or-treaters," Walker said. However, this year there's a push for children with autism to carry around blue buckets or pumpkins. The goal is to allow all children, including those with developmental challenges, to join in on the fun. One in 59 children in the U.S., and one in 36 boys, are diagnosed on the autism spectrum. "Personally, we do not use the blue pumpkin or want to use the blue pumpkin. We want to use what everybody else uses, and we like to be inclusive with everyone," Walker said. Walker adds the pumpkin would only bring attention to Meki's differences. "I don't believe in putting that type of a label on someone to have to identify with a blue pumpkin," Walker said. Meanwhile, for the Rutecki family in Renssalear, trick-or-treating is a much different experience for their 5-year-old son, Boden. "Sensory things are very difficult for him, as well as interacting with new people. So going door to door would not be possible,' said Lark Rutecki, Boden's mom. Instead, his family opted to take him to a 'trunk-or-treat' this weekend at Rensselaer High School. They are thrilled with the blue pumpkin campaign, to make sure everyone feels included. "He had on a fireman costume and he was able to go around and say hello. The school has really rallied around him and us, and we're really lucky to be a part of it," says Rutecki.