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Here’s what it means when you see a blue bucket or pumpkin this Halloween

The Halloween season is upon us once more, so we know to expect kids (and some adults) in costumes knocking on our doors for some sugary treats.

While we’re used to seeing trick or treaters carrying orange pumpkin buckets, you might encounter someone with a blue bucket.

Apparently, this particular color is meant to signal the homeowner that the basket’s bearer is on the autism spectrum.

This practice began in 2018 when a Louisiana mom named Alicia Plumer shared her decision to let her then 21-year-old son with autism, BJ, to carry a blue bucket while trick-or-treating. BJ absolutely loves Halloween, and she wanted him to be able to safely take part in the occasion.

Most people on the spectrum are averse to loud and scary noises. Some of them also struggle to make eye contact and verbally communicate.

“Please help us keep his spirit alive & happy,” Alicia wrote on Facebook. “So when you see the blue bucket share a piece of candy. Spread awareness! These precious people are not “too big” to trick or treat.”

Alicia’s post was flooded with encouraging comments from friends and family, who praised her for coming up with such a great idea.

As great as it is, the practice of using a blue bucket to signal autism isn’t nationally recognized, according to Wendy Fournier, the president of the National Autism Association.

If you want a more straightforward approach, you can try handing out cards that signify your child’s condition. You can also have your kid wear a special badge or carry a bag with a sign so that homeowners understand if they might communicate a bit differently.

The blue bucket movement initiated by Alicia is similar to the Teal Pumpkin Project, which encourages the public to display teal pumpkins outside their homes to show that they’re offering non-food items—such as stickers and toys—to trick-or-treaters with food allergies.

If you want to make your home more accessible, here are some things you can do:

1. Clear the path to your door. While it’s fun to create Halloween-y obstacles that people need to get through to access their treats, it will be hard for people with disabilities.

2. If you have stairs leading to your front door, make sure to walk down on them to offer the treats. People with disabilities may have difficulty navigating stairs, so they might be discouraged from stopping by your home if getting treats would be tricky for them.

In light of the pandemic, a much safer option would be to put a bucket of treats at the bottom of your steps so people can easily reach them.

3. Prepare allergy-friendly treats like play-doh, stickers, coloring pens, and small toys.

4. Avoid using bright lights, startle scares, and loud noises.

5. Don’t put nuts in your bowl of treats; it’s one of the most common food allergies.

6. Put out a sign or blue or teal pumpkins to signal that your home is accessible to all trick-or-treaters.

What do you think of the “blue pumpkin movement”? Let us know in the comments!

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Eve Reiland

Monday 4th of October 2021

The Blue Pumpkin is not a good idea. I’m an Autistic mom to Autistic kids ages teens to 28. While in theory this might seem OK for non-Autistic parents - it really is a bad practice outing the child and putting a target on them for bullies and predators. Autistic children don’t need to share their DX with anyone, including when they trick-or-treat. The privilege non-autistic parents have doesn’t apply to their autistic child and so this can be a difficult one to understand. The stigma and ugly towards Autistics is incredible and this pumpkin is also further stigmatizing now (taunts on the playground about kids carrying ‘blue buckets’ and riding ‘short busses’ being Autistic (a word used as a slur)) Also the blue pumpkin is gender binary due to it’s connection to a parent-founded autism organization. This is not to be confused with the ‘teal’ pumpkin - a very different campaign that doesn’t out the child. Please consider there is a much bigger picture here that you aren’t understanding and listen to Autistics about this matter.

Saturday 2nd of October 2021

That's awesome!!!! I'm now aware and not oblivious ♥‿♥

Friday 1st of October 2021

I think it's great. Thank You for educating us to be able to help every child enjoy Halloween.

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