Blue pumpkins raise awareness

To many, Halloween is their favorite holiday because of the free candy trick or treating yields. Kids go house to house ending up with pounds of candy that should satisfy their sweet tooth for months. To others, Halloween is a stressful outing, one that individuals with autism would like to be part of, but ultimately is too much of an overwhelming event to follow through with. One Facebook mom had the solution.

Last year, the blue pumpkin movement started, simply requiring people with autism to carry around a blue pumpkin when trick or treating. Alicia Plumber and Lisa Lee were inspired after reading a post about the Teal Pumpkin Project (TPP), a house to house initiative to provide a safer environment for children with allergies.

While people with autism may be carrying a blue pumpkin as they go house to house, it is important not to confuse this with a food allergy. The TPP was started in 2014 by the Food Allergy & Research to make Halloween enjoyable for people with severe food allergies, such as peanuts and gluten.

Families who have pledged to the TPP put a teal pumpkin outside their house and provide trick or treaters who have food allergies with a non-food treat such as temporary tattoos, glow bands and stickers so Halloween can be a safer holiday.

The color blue is significant to autism due to the non-profit called Autism Speaks, whose logo is a light blue puzzle piece.

This movement is to spread awareness of autism and to advise people to be more respectful to individuals with autism. Since autism is a developmental disorder affecting someone’s ability at communication, people can, for example, help by not insisting trick or treaters with a blue pumpkin say, “trick or treat,” because even that may be a struggle. Adults with autism may also be trick or treating so be kind and respectful to everyone.

Facebook users Plumber and Lee were inspired by the TPP and started an internet PSA for their autistic kids. Plumber said in a Facebook post published on Oct. 25, 2018, “when you see the blue bucket share a piece of candy. Spread awareness! These precious people are not ‘too big’ to trick or treat.”