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Teal and Blue Pumpkins Promote Inclusion for Trick-or-Treaters

Brandon Weathers
Created: October 28, 2019 05:04 PM

Halloween means monsters, costumes, and candy, right? Not for everyone. As people prepare to greet trick-or-treaters, there are a couple of accommodations that may be needed in order to keep all children included in the fun.

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The Teal Pumpkin Project raises awareness of food allergies. "Is there a point in trick-or-treating if I can't eat any of it or I can't deal with the cross-contamination?" Great Lakes Aquarium inclusion coordinator Samantha Smingler said. Smingler knows the challenges presented by food allergies first-hand.

She participates in the Teal Pumpkin Project by offering trick-or-treaters non-food items in addition to candy favorites. "This year at my house we're giving out colored pencils and coloring pages, it can be dollar store trinkets and fidgets, it can be stickers or tattoos, it can be bubbles," Smingler said.

Participating houses are indicated by a teal pumpkin, ribbon, or other teal item. The Great Lakes Aquarium has offered non-food items in teal pumpkin buckets at their annual Scarium at the Aquarium for the past several years. People can register to join the Teal Pumpkin Project and see a map of participating homes here.

Another inclusion effort this Halloween serves to spread autism awareness. Children on the autism spectrum may choose to use a blue trick-or-treat bucket to indicate sensitivity to over stimulation.

The Duluth branch of the Minnesota Autism Center is providing blue buckets for each of their students. Carrie Cikanek said, "When they come up, don't expect them to say trick-or-treat, don't maybe even expect eye contact or a smile. Sometimes, don't even expect them to come to your door. Say, 'Oh hey, give this to your friend that's standing in the back.'"

The blue bucket is a push away from previous approaches to indicate autism such as badges or signs. "With the bucket, it's more natural," Cikanek said, "Every other kid is using it and they're not labeled, 'Hey, I have autism,' or 'I don't speak,' so it's just something that says, 'You know what, I have a little bit of a different time, but I'm still an individual.'"

Molly Lyons is the director of resource development for Northwood Children's Services and the mother of a child with Asperger's. She said, "Yes, it can single kids out to be teased by other kids and to have other parents be like, 'Oh, your child has autism, I don't know how to handle that,' but it's also great for awareness, because that's what we really, really need."

Cikanek said, "Just don't treat them different. They want to come out and have fun, they want to do everything too, so if they have a little bit of a harder time, just accept it."

Credits

Brandon Weathers

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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