(WTNH) – Parents are always concerned about their kids’ safety on Halloween, but there are a couple of recent trends you might not know about that are designed to help keep certain kids happy and safe.
You may have seen them in your neighborhood: Pumpkins painted bright teal. It is a color meant to stand out, because it has a very specific meaning for kids with allergies.
“If you put a teal pumpkin out at your doorstep, it just means that you’re going to offer a non-food treat,” said food allergy consultant Gina Lee. “It doesn’t mean you’re not going to offer the candy, you’re just going to have a non-food treat for those children who have food allergies.”
A non-food treat could be hair ties, pencils, erasers, bubbles. There are lots of possibilities. The teal pumpkin project started about 7 years ago, and has caught on all over the world. Some people are posting teal pumpkins on nextdoor.com indicating they offer non-food treats. The idea is to make sure kids with allergies don’t get left out.
“Children with food allergies often can’t consume the candies that people put out there,” said Lee. “Then additionally, the small size candies don’t have labels, so they can’t read the labels to ensure they’re safe.”
Lee knows because she has a child with allergies. She was on Good Morning Connecticut Wednesday along with Darlene Borre, who was talking about blue pumpkins for children with autism.
“Halloween can be scary for a lot of kids, but for people with autism, all the sights and sounds, it can just really overwhelm their sensory system,” Borre said.
Her son Ben is now 18. He has autism and is non-verbal.
“When Ben was younger, we used to put a sign on his bag that said, ‘Hi, I’m Ben. I’m not going to say trick or treat, but I still want candy,'” Borre said.
Instead of a sign, kids with autism are now encouraged to carry a blue pumpkin or bucket. Folks handing out candy don’t have to do anything different, just be aware that child might not react quite like other kids.
“More information, more awareness makes everyone more comfortable and kindness just pours out.”
So again, you put a teal pumpkin outside if you’re offering non-food treats for kids with allergies. If you see a kid carrying a blue pumpkin, they have autism and may be non-verbal, so don’t be offended if they don’t say anything. Most important, they are all kids and they just want to enjoy Halloween like everyone else.