Blue pumpkins raising autism awareness this Halloween

WAFF 6:00-6:30PM - VOD - clipped version

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A new trend you may see this Halloween is people with autism using a blue pumpkin when trick-or-treating.

Todd Tomerlin is a North Alabama parent, his son has autism. Tomerlin says the blue pumpkin can bridge a communication gap between the person with autism and other trick-or-treaters and parents.

“It’s a stressful interaction," he said. "Obviously, when you’re going door to door you want your child to be polite, but when they’re not very verbal or, in some cases not verbal at all, they can be. So, as a parent you wouldn’t want someone to think your child’s being disrespectful when in fact they’re not.”

Tomerlin said Halloween can also be a sensory overload for a lot of kids with autism.

“The neighborhoods are crowded, the kids are running around here and there and parents are driving around with their headlights on," Tomerlin said.

Tomerlin said for adults with autism who still want to trick-or-treat, the blue pumpkin can help signal to others they may not have a maturity level reflecting how old they look.

“They’re just wanting the same experience that a typical 9-year-old or 10-year-old would have," he said.

For the parents, Tomerlin said the blue pumpkin can be a silent way of communicating something they might have to explain at every door.

“If the community is aware, then that person on the other side of the door might be more patient, more understanding, might interact more and that’s what we want," Tomerlin said. "We just want interaction with our child whether they’re verbal or non verbal.”

Tomerlin said an important thing to remember is every child with autism and their parents are different. Not every person with autism will be carrying a blue pumpkin on Halloween.

“Some parents don’t want their child to be singled out or labeled," Tomerlin said.

Tomerlin says if someone with a blue pumpkin comes to your door on Halloween just be a little more patient and understanding with that person.

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