Grace Avila is a junior sociology major
For us fall fanatics, Oct. 1 signifies the rise of “spooky season,” a term that has a multitude of meanings (depending on who you ask) but mainly refers to Halloween. Spooky season could mean orange and yellow leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, trips through corn mazes, a visit to the pumpkin patch, scary movies, or the one time of year when candy corn lovers can eat sweets without getting too much backlash.
Halloween may only last one day, but its celebration is a month-long occasion. In the midst of midterms, papers, and other obligations, it is easy to get swept away by the Halloween hype and think of ghosts and ghouls instead of the spooky group presentation you have the next week. It gets dark by 7 p.m. now, and many of us are ready to fall back and get that extra, well-deserved hour of sleep. (Some of us are even ready for it to be Christmas.)
There is so much build-up for one single night at the very end of the month, as the moon rises, the lights outside the houses turn on, kids are ringing doorbells, yelling “trick or treat!,” and filling up pumpkin baskets with candy. However, in the midst of the laughter and the little Elsas, Annas, and Spidermen running around, it’s easy to get caught up in our own world and not pay too much attention to the buckets of the trick-or-treaters in front of us.
This Halloween, I encourage you to keep an eye out for blue Halloween buckets, which have become an unofficial symbol of autism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1 in 59 children in the U.S. today have autism. Many older teenagers and young adults receive backlash for trick-or-treating, but if someone is using a blue pumpkin candy bucket, it could mean they have autism, and they should be treated just like any other trick-or-treater. This is a great way of promoting autism awareness and will benefit autistic trick-or-treaters and those around them.
This Halloween, I encourage you to keep an eye out for blue Halloween buckets, which have become an unofficial symbol of autism.
According to the Autism Society, autism spectrum disorder is “a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others.” Some children with autism may be sensitive to touch or busy environments while others may thrive in social environments and love hugs and other forms of affection. Autism is as individual as a person’s fingerprint — while everyone with autism is on the spectrum, their diagnoses are all different.
It’s important to create spaces in which everyone feels included and safe. Growing up, my parents were always looking for activities for my little sister, who has Down syndrome, to be a part of. My family and I have been involved with the E-Sports (where the “e” stands for “exceptional”) programs in California’s Central Valley since 2008, and now I am involved with San Francisco E-Sports programs, specifically E-Soccer and E-Hoops.
These inclusive soccer and basketball programs are spaces for special needs children to not only reach their full potential by participating in dribbling, passing, and shooting drills, but these activities also provide places for these kids to be themselves — places where they don’t have to worry about being seen and treated as different or separate.
All children and young adults should have the same opportunities during Halloween. While trick-or-treating is fun and exciting, it can also be overwhelming. With kids crowding around each other, loud chatter, and anxious parents flooding the streets, the scene can quickly turn chaotic.
Some children with autism may be extra sensitive to the chaos and feel uncomfortable. Some autistic children may be nonverbal and unable to say “trick-or-treat” like many of their peers. Some individuals with autism may be adults who still dress up and want to embrace their inner kid at heart. It is important to have compassion toward and be empathetic to everyone, and the unofficial blue bucket trend is a step towards positivity and inclusion.
We are all different in one way or the next. We may have different heights, different hair colors, different clothes, different genders, or be of different races — but Halloween is a night where people can put their differences aside and come together through the magic of dressing up. Understanding the importance of the blue bucket trend is a start to a more positive and inclusive space for every ghost, goblin, witch, and werewolf we might encounter on Halloween night.
Understanding the importance of the blue bucket trend is a start to a more positive and inclusive space for every ghost, goblin, witch, and werewolf we might encounter on Halloween night.