Halloween is going to look different this year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone will have different, safe ways of celebrating this spooky season.
Whether you decide to trick or treat or not this year, the same message remains relevant — be kind to all kids.
Last October I wrote about blue pumpkins — they are used to tell neighbors if a child is autistic. After talking with fellow autistic people and learning more about it, my opinions have changed.
While the blue pumpkin project started off with good intentions as a way to educate others about autism, it is sad that they felt that it was necessary, just so kids can get candy.
I posted things about it in several local groups — while there was support, there are also those who defended having a kid say "trick or treat" and "thank you." While I do believe manners are important, there are kids that just can't talk. Some kids can't put on a show, just for candy and there are plenty of ways to show politeness without speaking.
Please stop associating kids with disabilities with people who are rude and disrespectful.
There could be many reasons why a kid may not say "thank you." They could be autistic, deaf, have cerebral palsy, have a medical condition where they lost their voice, they could be really shy or they could have bad anxiety. Regardless of that reason, no one should reprimand a kid for not saying "trick or treat."
Parents, if your child has a disability and wants to trick or treat, let them. It's their Halloween, too. If anyone gives them a hard time about not talking then speak up, It a great opportunity to educate others about what autism is (but make sure that the child is okay with you disclosing their disability first).
It is good to educate, however, there are sadly those who won't even bother to listen. If they give your kid a hard time then speak up, stand up for your kid, be their parent, friend, brother, sister — just be there for them.
If you say "well it's a good way to educate others about autism" realize that there are other ways you can educate others about it. If you avidly tell kids who cannot say "trick or treat" to "just stay home then," you are being a bully.
Halloween belongs to everyone, disability, or not. Please don't make a child feel more ostracized than they already are. If you are acting sourly to these kids, then you really need a reality check — no kid is perfect. Kids with disabilities exist, and they deserve to have an amazing holiday.
Doesn't speak? Give them candy. No costume? Give them candy? Looks too old? Give them candy. Everyone gets candy — let them enjoy that experience.