My go-to stress reliever has become scrolling through Google news alerts via my very curated feed (read: lots of Gilmore Girls, local school updates and CICO diet trends–on a good day, toss in a few tiny house designs and I’m a goner!). On one recent escape with Google, I crossed upon some articles about blue pumpkins for Autism awareness, and my curiosity was peaked. As I read more about these pumpkins, it quickly became clear that they weren’t only about awareness, but rather representative of an entire movement to support those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Count me in.
Why is ASD awareness important on Halloween?
Halloween and Trick-or-Treat Night can be a tricky time for those with ASD. The extra people, noises, and sights are often overwhelming, not to mention amped-up energy and charged atmosphere surrounding the holiday. Throw in costumes which can be itchy, uncomfortable and disorienting (especially if they include a mask or are large in size), and the day can be very challenging for those with sensory issue and/or those on The Spectrum.
Individuals with ASD often find eye contact and conversation, especially with unfamiliar individuals, difficult. Interacting with a new person at every door can be not only hard, but exhausting for someone on The Spectrum. If they are walking around the neighborhood with friends, there is the element of social interaction (also demanding for those with ASD) and trying to keep up with their peers. These factors, on top of already being taxed with managing all of the extra stimuli of the holiday, can easily become TOO MUCH.
I have seen this with my own son with ASD. He quickly becomes burned out on Halloween night, and is always ready to call the night short before the hours of Trick-or-Treat end.
What are the blue pumpins for Autism awareness all about?
While blue pumpkins are generally geared to support awareness of those with ASD, they primarily serve three different goals on Halloween:
- Sending a message while your child is out trick-or-treating that they are on The Spectrum and may engage differently than others while out and about
- Signaling from your porch that your home is aware of and sensitive to issues those on The Spectrum might have on Trick-or-Treat Night
- Promoting general awareness of ASD
Trick-or-treaters with blue pumpkins
- Blue pumpkin pails are readily available online if not in your local store (shop around for the best price!).
- Have your child use this blue pail as their candy-collecting receptacle.
- The hope: greeters giving away candy will not require specific behavior or words (i.e. answering “Trick or Treat?” or “What is your costume?”, making eye contact, smiling, etc.) when seeing the blue pail which can help make for a smoother night for your child.
- For more suggestions on managing Trick-or-Treat Night with your ASD child, go HERE.
Sending a message from your home on Trick-or-Treat night
- Put a blue pumpkin out on your porch or door step to show you are aware of the specific issues a child with ASD might have on this night.
- Do not pressure children to interact in a specific way when they come to your doorstop.
- Offer a variety of treats (consider some non-edible treats like crayons or bouncy balls) as some children with sensory issues are adverse to chewy, gummy or crunchy candies.
- The hope: this will make for an easier, more enjoyable night for kids on The Spectrum.
By displaying a blue pumpkin in front of your home, you are:
- contributing specifically to awareness of logistical ways to help those with ASD on Trick-or-Treat Night–the hope: the more people see blue pumpkins, they will know what it means=easier for those on The Spectrum!
- showing support and awareness of ASD at large–I can’t say how much the growing awareness of ASD (even in just the past few years!) has made our lives easier overall. I am so appreciative of every voice that adds to the cause–however blue and pumpkin-like it may be!
Need a blue pumpkin for your own porch?
While I had better luck finding the blue treat pails, it was really hard to find a blue pumpkin for porch display (I strongly suspect this will change in the near future as the movement grows!), so I made one of my own. It’s no secret that I’m not naturally crafty, friends, but this was a super-easy project, I promise!
Materials you will need for making your own blue pumpkin:
- a pumpkin–real or fake works! I went with a fake pumpkin from Target because I don’t want to paint a pumpkin every year, and I plan on proudly displaying a blue pumpkin on our porch for years to come! I chose white because I thought it might be slightly easier to cover up with paint, but I don’t really think it would make a difference.
- blue spray paint–your choice of shade. I went with the classic royal blue color that is typically used for ASD awareness.
- masking tape or painter’s tape (optional)
- a wire hanger or other means to suspend pumpkin for painting drying (will only work with fake pumpkins
Steps to making your own blue pumpkin:
- Cover stem of pumpkin with masking tape (optional)
- Hook pumpkin from wire hanger and hold out with one arm (again, this will only work if using a fake pumpkin. Real pumpkins may need to be sprayed in stages, allowing one side to dry until you can roll the pumpkin over and spray the rest).
- Spray paint the entire pumpkin.
- Hook pumpkin wire somewhere it will be able to air-dry all over (we used a space over my husband’s tool bench).
- Apply a second coat if necessary and dry again.
- Display on your porch!
I love my blue pumpkin and all that it represents. I am so proud to see awareness grow in our communities and the world at large and for all the real, practical help this translates into for those with ASD.
Thank YOU for reading this post and sharing with others to further lend voice to this very important movement. My blue pumpkin is saluting you from the porch, friends!
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