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‘[They] may not want to be identified’: Group urges caution for Halloween with blue bucket trend for children with autism

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 6:05 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:12 PM EDT
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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - Halloween is right around the corner and a group in Henrico County, that works with children who have autism, is urging caution as the “blue bucket trend” re-emerges.

It is an image that tends to pop up around this time of year on social media, blue trick-or-treat buckets filling a shelf with a comment saying they are for children with autism. The message goes on to say candy givers should be kind to those with these buckets who might not be able to communicate.

However, Catherine Pall with the Richmond Autism Integration Network, or R.A.I.N., feels this well-intended way of raising awareness should be avoided.

“I can see both sides - this being cool, and it will help someone else know, while at the same time someone with a disability or issues with communication may not want to be identified,” she said.

Blue pumpkins are not just for decoration on Halloween, they also serve as a symbol for kids with autism who cannot communicate.

The idea is to alert candy givers that the child might not be able to say things like ‘trick-or-treat.’ Pall said the kids who come to her center are not fans of the blue buckets.

“They don’t want to talk about autism; they just want to be themselves,” she added. “They don’t want someone saying, ‘Oh, you’re different so I have to treat you differently.’ You don’t have to treat them differently, treat them like kids; like you would any other kid.”

Instead, R.A.I.N. is encouraging a different, more discreet, way of sharing they have autism by using trick-or-treat cutouts from the National Autism Association.

“One of them says, ‘having autism can sometimes make it difficult to speak. Please accept this as a thank you for the yummy treat’,” she read.

This effort is different from the Teal Pumpkin Project which visibly lets people know about any food allergies or sensitivities.

Despite mixed feels, Pall said it is important for everyone to be inclusive this Halloween.

“The most important thing in society is to be included,” she added. “How are we promoting acceptance if we’re single people out without asking them.”

Ultimately, whether you choose to use a blue bucket or go without one, will come down to the family/child’s decision.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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