What you should do if you see blue or teal pumpkin buckets at your door this Halloween

You might see some people collecting their treats in a blue pumpkin this Halloween. If you happen to notice someone with a blue pumpkin on your doorstep, that person may have autism or an intellectual disability.

Things to consider for an accessible Halloween

Krista MacGillivray says if you can't find a blue bucket, you can always paint one blue yourself. (Travis Kingdon/CBC News)

If someone is out collecting their Halloween candy in a blue pumpkin, the Autism Society of P.E.I. wants Islanders to know that person may have autism or another intellectual disability. 

Krista MacGillivray, acting executive director of the society, said she's received a number of calls inquiring about blue pumpkin buckets for Halloween after seeing them circulating on social media. She said homeowners should keep their eyes out and approach interactions appropriately.

"The homeowner wants to recognize that the child that has this blue pumpkin may or may not be verbal. They may have difficulty with eye contact so they may not say 'trick or treat.' So it's good just to know that maybe acknowledging that you may just pop it into their bucket," she said. 

While the society doesn't have any blue buckets to give out, MacGillivray said if you can't find one, you can paint one yourself.

"It's important to know that it makes people in the community more welcomed and understood," she said. "It's a great strategy to let communities know you may have someone in your neighborhood that has a child on the spectrum," she said. 

It's also important to note that those carrying the blue bucket may not just be children, said Marcia Carroll, executive director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities. 

"If they look like an adult, they may not have the mindset of an adult. Understand that some kids may be bigger than others, but still want to be out trick-or-treating," she said. 

Other considerations

The blue pumpkins are just one way people can make Halloween more accessible.

If an orange sign is posted on a front lawn or in a window, it signifies that the homeowners are aware that some people may have trouble getting to the front door, and pledge to do whatever they can to be inclusive.

Homeowners with staircases, steep or long driveways, crowded front entrances or narrow pathways distribute candy from their garage or driveway, or promise to be on the lookout to make trick-or-treating easily accessible.

If one of these signs is posted at a home, it signifies that the homeowners are aware some children may have trouble getting to the front door and pledge to do whatever they can to be inclusive. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"Keep an eye out. If you see somebody approaching in a chair and you don't have any kind of mobility aid and you don't have a ramp, be quick to go out and meet them where they are," Carroll said. 

She also said Islanders should be mindful of the decorations they put up. 

"If you have strobe lights, that can trigger people with seizures and then certainly that can scare folks with autism."

Food allergies and sensitivities

As you're walking around your neighbourhood this Halloween, Carroll said you might also see teal pumpkins. Those are to signify houses that are giving out alternatives to candy, for those who may have food allergies, she said. 

Sarah Hewko, an assistant professor in UPEI's department of applied human sciences, said allergies are important because of the potential health consequences, as well as the social aspects of Halloween.

Marcia Carroll says that it may not always be children carrying blue pumpkin buckets. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Hewko said sometimes kids can feel excluded if their allergy prevents them from enjoying the same treats as their friends. Homeowners should keep this in mind when setting out their treats for the evening, she said. 

"If they had multiple bowls of things they could put little labels on it like gluten-free or dairy-free or you know peanut-free."

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