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Autistic Lens

The Blue Pumpkin Debate: What you need to know

October 25th, 2022

Aly Laube

For Everyone

Blue pumpkins have been used by autistic trick-or-treaters for the last few years, but not everybody thinks they’re a good idea.

Teal pumpkins started getting popular in 2014 when nonprofit Food Allergy Research & Education launched a campaign to help kids with food allergies enjoy Halloween without suffering from reactions.

But it has since been expanded to include other kids, including those in the autistic community.

Whether or not you choose to paint your pumpkins blue is up to you and your family. Before you make a decision, here are some important things to know,



The pros

Using blue pumpkins could reduce stressful interactions for autistic children and their families.

For instance, if strangers see a blue pumpkin, they might know to be quiet, respectful, and understanding of its owner’s additional needs. If a child can’t say “trick or treat!” when they come to your door, they might be non-verbal. If they’re not wearing a costume, they could have sensory issues — and so on.

For people who are non-verbal, wearing some sort of indicator to explain their inability to talk can be useful for interacting with others. Oftentimes, it’s difficult to tell someone is autistic by looking at them, and the blue pumpkin serves as a wordless explanation.

Blue pumpkins are also sometimes used as a way for non-autistic households to signal that they’re a safe space for all kids, including those with disabilities. This can create a sense of community, support, and acceptance for autistic people and their families.

Plus, people who don’t know much about autism might be encouraged to do more research after seeing a blue pumpkin around Halloween. In this way, using them can raise awareness of autism and the autistic experience.



The Cons

Others say using blue pumpkins can be dangerous and damaging.

Carrying a differently-colored pumpkin can encourage the “othering” of autistic kids, or result in them being targeted by bullies or predators.

Some believe the blue pumpkins are like targets on the backs of autistic children, who may have communication or processing issues that make them more susceptible to manipulation and abuse. If they aren’t aware of danger, or if they’re overly trusting, it might be safer for them to blend in rather than calling attention to their differences.

Blending in might be more fun for them, too. If your autistic kid doesn’t want to divulge their diagnosis to their peers, or if they’re too young or unable to communicate consent, a blue pumpkin could “out” them before they’re safe or comfortable.

As for adults, opponents of the blue pumpkins argue every child — autistic or not — is deserving of equal understanding and candy on the holiday. Refrain from judging other parents and children if you think their behaviour seems strange instead of expecting them to accommodate you.

Will you be using a blue pumpkin this year?

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