When Treating Others with Compassion is no Trick: Halloween with Empathy
Spider webs. Motion-sensor skulls laughing ghoulishly. Skeletons and graveyards in the cul-de-sac. Witches that jump out when you ring the doorbell. Sounds fun, right!? The sights, sounds and scares of Halloween are indeed fun for many. But for some children (and even adults), it can be, well, a little too much.
This Halloween, companies and individuals are demonstrating how that handing out kindness is even better than a full-size candy bar.
Blue Treat Buckets for Autism Awareness
For children (and adults) with autism who want to share the tradition of trick-or-treat, sensory overload from the decorations and costumes and sugar rush are just one factor they must manage.
Some individuals with autism can have social anxieties or communication differences which make simply walking to a door and saying “Trick or treat” or “Thank you” difficult to impossible. Young adults or older children with autism often still want to participate in the holiday as well but can be met with hostility at the door because they seem “too old” for the holiday.
That is why Alicia Plumer, mother of BJ, 21, took to social media last year. She informed her followers that BJ would be carrying a blue bucket and advised that if you see the blue bucket, to please operate with kindness because he has autism. Her message resonated with thousands and started a trend: blue candy buckets for those who may have delays or need a little extra kindness.
We believe everyone should operate with kindness regardless of the color of a treat bucket. But the hope is that people who see older kids still trick-or-treating with a blue bucket will understand that they are not too old to trick-or-treat. The blue bucket trend has now spread across the country and adults are now being made aware of showing a little more patience and kindness to someone carrying a blue bucket, no matter their age.
Teal Pumpkins Signal Safe Treats for Kids with Allergies
For kids with food allergies, trick-or-treating can be a minefield. Avoiding treats with peanuts, coconut, or even dairy can be difficult, and for some children even smelling an allergen can set off a reaction. Because of these hidden dangers, in 2014 the Food Allergy Research and Education Organization launched The Teal Pumpkin Project and it is predicted that even more families will participate this Halloween than ever before.
The project encourages families to hand out non-candy items as treats, and encourages those who are handing out non-food related treats, like pencils, glow in the dark tattoos, or small games, to put a teal pumpkin on their porch so that trick-or-treaters with allergies know that they can get a safe treat there.
The project is being promoted by two moms, Chelsea Baker and Natalie Brennan, who have sons with severe allergies. Baker and Brennan report seeing an uptick in these non-candy related treats, like Play-Doh and glow sticks, and are hoping to spread the word that not every child would like a piece of candy and may value small toys instead. The goal is to make sure that every child feels included on Halloween, no matter their allergies.
Target Offers Adaptive Costumes for Halloween
Target made history this year by unveiling four adaptive Halloween costumes for children with disabilities. Store-bought Halloween costumes are an easy way to quickly transform into your favorite characters, but for those with disabilities, pre-made costumes can be challenging to put on. Target’s new adaptive costumes were created to address this issue and give kids with disabilities more fun options.
The line of costumes includes four designs: a princess with carriage, a pirate with ship, a unicorn, and a shark. All have openings in the back to make it easier to dress and the pirate ship and princess carriage were created to cover a wheelchair so that it is part of the overall look. The unicorn and shark costumes were designed for those with sensory issues and are made with soft fabric with no irritating seams or tags and have hidden openings in the front for convenient abdominal access.
The costumes retail for $25 – $30 and are available in Target stores nationwide as well as online. These long overdue costumes are part of Target’s push for inclusive clothing for all children and adults.
While you’re filling up your cauldron this year and making a checklist of spooks and spells, be sure to check yourself, too—and show a little more empathy to the many types of friends and neighbors who are celebrating.
Photo credit: The Teal Pumpkin Project