Two years ago, Mom Alicia Plumer shared an image of a blue trick or treating bucket along with this message, “If you see someone who appears to be an adult dressed up to trick-or-treat this year carrying this blue bucket, he’s our son! His name is BJ & he is autistic. While he has the body of a 21 year old, he loves Halloween,” she posted on Facebook.
“Please help us keep his spirit alive & happy. 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,” she added.
Alicia’s post received a lot of attention and the trend seems to be picking up speed in the autism community and beyond, with major retailers like Target now carrying blue Halloween buckets in stores. However, some strongly disagree with the practice, citing that it sets our kids apart and could even make them a target for abuse. As with most everything else, it’s a choice that should be based on a person’s unique needs.
I believe it can be helpful, especially for the more severely affected kids who are non-verbal, and for older kids who function at a lower cognitive age level. Some kids can’t say “Trick or Treat” or “thank you”. They may not be able to make eye contact, and could also have sensory issues that prevent them from wearing an elaborate costume. For some kids and young adults with autism, there are a lot of challenges to overcome on Halloween, but like everyone else, they want to enjoy the fun and excitement of it.
As the general public becomes more aware that a trick or treater carrying a blue bucket may have autism, they have an opportunity to respond with understanding and kindness. For example, instead of waiting for a child with autism to say, “Trick or Treat”, you could just say hello or compliment them on their costume and wish them a Happy Halloween! I used to have to explain at every door that my daughter is non-verbal, then say thank you on her behalf. My heart breaks when I think about how she may have been feeling as I had to address her inability to ask for a treat at house after house.
For those who choose to use them, the blue bucket can promote a feeling of independence by providing a subtle, dignified way of alerting people that the child or young adult at their door may not be able to participate in all of the traditional aspects of trick or treating, but they certainly deserve to enjoy the night as much as everyone else.
Parents, be sure to check out NAA’s free Halloween Trick or Treat Card Cutouts, as well. Have a safe and happy Halloween!
Image courtesy of Target.
NAA does not receive compensation on the sale of blue buckets.