For many children, Halloween is filled with laughter while walking around the neighborhood. But, for children with Autism, Halloween can be extremely stressful, and the simple act of saying “trick-or-treat” isn’t possible for children that are nonverbal.
One mom is on a mission to bring Autism awareness across the country on Halloween night. Omairis Taylor’s viral Facebook post has garnered over 40,000 likes and 156,000 shares. In the post, Taylor states, “My son is 3 years old and has autism. He is nonverbal. Last year houses waited for him to say TRICK OR TREAT for him to get a piece of candy. This year we will be trying the BLUE BUCKET to signify he has autism. Please allow him (or anyone with a BLUE BUCKET) to enjoy this day.” The post has received overwhelming support, and many commenters were excited to learn the meaning behind the blue bucket. One commenter said, “Thanks for sharing that - I had NO idea!” while another wrote, “Great idea. I for one love that he or she can enjoy the holiday.”
The blue buckets are part of an Autism awareness initiative, and People.com says, “Taylor is spreading awareness for the blue Halloween bucket initiative, where children on the spectrum carry a blue version of the traditional candy-collecting pail to signal that they may have autism and have a hard time asking for candy.”
The Blue Bucket Initiative Continues to Go Viral
The blue bucket initiative first went viral last year when a Louisiana mom, Alicia Plumer, announced that her 21-year-old son would be trick-or-treating with a blue bucket. Plumer wrote, “Trick or Treat....the BLUE BUCKET...if you see someone who appears to be an adult dressed up to trick or treat this year carrying this blue bucket, he’s our son! His name is BJ & he is autistic. While he has the body of a 21-year-old, he loves Halloween. Please help us keep his spirit alive & happy. So when you see the blue bucket, share a piece of candy. Spread awareness!”
Plumer’s post was shared by Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to promoting advocacy, resources, and support to individuals with autism and their families. The organization offers these tips for Halloween night:
Hang a sign on your door to let families know that your home is Autism-friendly.
Be aware of moving decorations, fog machines, and flashing lights. Skip homes with loud noises or unsafe sensory decorations.
Trick-or-treat in your neighborhood. Go with friends and neighbors. Staying close to home means you can get home quickly to take a break if you need to.
Both Plumer and Taylor’s Facebook posts have brought awareness to the blue bucket initiative. Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association says, “For those who choose to use them, the blue buckets could provide a subtle, dignified way of alerting people that this child or young adult may not be able to make eye contact, or tolerate wearing a mask, or even say 'thank you', but they certainly deserve to enjoy the fun of Halloween as much as everyone else.”
The blue bucket initiative is a safe way for children with Autism to participate in Halloween without feeling stressed or frightened. Much like preparing for an emergency or disaster, children with disabilities need special considerations when it comes to participating in holiday events.
The Institute for Childhood Preparedness provides trainings to early childcare professionals across the country to prepare them for natural disasters, emergencies, active shooter