British Columbia

Penticton father creates autism-awareness sign so non-verbal son can enjoy Halloween

The father of a three-and-a-half year old non-verbal boy on the autism spectrum in Penticton, B.C., has created an autism awareness sign to help notify homeowners of some atypical behaviours his son might display on Halloween night as the family goes out trick-or-treating.

'He's not going to be able to say "trick or treat" or "thank you,"' says Sean Hunt about his son Logan

Three-year-old Logan Hunt is preparing to go trick or treating this Halloween with a sign that explains his autism diagnosis and some behaviours he may exhibit. (Sean Hunt)

The father of a three-and-a-half-year-old boy on the autism spectrum in Penticton, B.C., has created an autism awareness sign to help notify homeowners of some atypical behaviours his son might display on Halloween night when he's trick or treating.

Sean Hunt's son, Logan, will be dressed as a cow for Halloween, but with a small white sign around his neck describing some of his social challenges.

"It's basically a big circle and on the top it says 'Autism Awareness' and it says 'Hi, my name is Logan and I have non-verbal autism. I might push my way in, grab more candy than I would like, not wait my turn. I'm sorry, I am still learning. Thank you,'" said Hunt, who created the sign after seeing a similar one online.

Earlier this year, Logan was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and he doesn't communicate with words.

ASD is typically detected in early childhood and causes impairments in communication skills and social interactions, often combined with repetitive behaviours and restricted interests or activities.

Hunt wants to be able to enjoy Halloween with Logan and his sisters without having to explain his son's behaviour to every person he meets while the family is out trick or treating.

"You can understand how stressful that might be, dealing with it hundreds of times in a night," Hunt said.

"He's not going to be able to say 'trick or treat' or 'thank you.'  He might grab more candy than you would like him to."

Hunt, who runs a martial arts academy in Penticton with classes for children with special needs like autism, said having this sign on Logan's neck is also a way to help people become more aware of autism, so that children like him are more accepted in society for who they are.

"We all know that autism is out there but when it comes to special holidays, it's almost like people forget about it, in a way," he said.

Social awareness of autism

Lisa Watson, a Kelowna-based co-ordinator with the Autism Society of B.C., said society is becoming more and more aware of people with ASD and strategies like Hunt's sign for his son only help to further educate people.

"When you see advertisements and things like that in the media, you either see that cute kid who is three or four or five and he is a cute kid and he has autism, or you see that adult with autism who is very much portrayed as the actor from [the television series 'The Good Doctor' or someone with savant abilities," Watson said.

"You don't always see that kid who either doesn't have those abilities or is banging his head against the wall."

Regardless of how much Logan's sign serves to raise awareness about ASD, Hunt wants to make sure his son has as good an experience trick or treating as any other child Halloween night.

About the Author

Brady Strachan

CBC Reporter

Brady Strachan is a CBC reporter based in Kelowna, B.C. Besides Kelowna, Strachan has covered stories for CBC News in Winnipeg, Brandon, Vancouver and internationally. Follow his tweets @BradyStrachan

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