While most children look forward to the experience of “trick-or-treating” on Halloween, approaching strangers can be intimidating for kids on the autistic spectrum, as they often have challenges with social skills and verbal communication.
This challenge is recognized by Omairis Taylor, a Pennsylvania mother whose three-year-old son has autism and is nonverbal. In a Facebook post which has since gone viral, the mother shared a new, innovative technique she developed to help raise autism awareness on Halloween.
“This year we will be trying the blue bucket to signify he has autism,” Taylor wrote, according to a report this month by Good Morning America.
“Please allow him (or any other person with a blue bucket) to enjoy this day and don't worry I'll still say 'trick or treat' for him," she added. "This holiday is hard enough without any added stress. Thank you in advance."
The “blue bucket” idea has been enthusiastically endorsed by Rachel Brnilovich, a clinical director for the Pennsylvania Autism Action Center.
“We love this campaign,” Brnilovich was quoted as saying. “It really gives our kids an opportunity to go out, no matter their age and experience Halloween," Brnilovich told the station. "Taking notice of the blue bucket and then just treating them like a child, how any child would be, give them the candy and just move on."
While activities like trick or treating can be hard for kids on the spectrum, autism awareness is on the rise, according to Michelle Koenig, another Pennsylvania mother whose 5-year-old son has autism.
“I think it's hard for them, but it's getting easier,” Koenig said. “People are becoming more accepting of it and people are aware. It's good and it's getting better.”
Koenig is also a supporter of the “blue bucket” approach.
“It gives people a chance to understand,” she said, “and it opens everyone's eyes."