Blue pumpkin pails being used to show community members not all kids are the same

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Trick-or-treaters are sure to be flooding neighborhood streets Thursday and chances are one of them could be carrying a blue pumpkin pail. 

Blue pumpkin pails are being used in communities all around the country as a way to tell people the child carrying the pumpkin falls on the autism spectrum. 

“The blue pumpkin is a way for families to share with those who they’re going trick-or-treating at their houses that their child has autism,” Dr. Hood says. 

Dr. Julia Hood Chief Clinical Officer over the Intellectual and Developmental Disability Program for Valley Behavioral Health says the main point of the pumpkin is to communicate unspoken cues to community members about the specific child’s needs. 

Autism is a developmental disability and differs within each child. Dr. Hood says, children with autism might not be able to say “thank you,” or “trick-or-treat,” they might look older than the usual trick-or-treating age, but the brightly colored pumpkin is a perfect way to explain these differences to neighbors in an effortless way. 

She says the initiative not only makes the trick-or-treating experience easier for kids but alleviates pressure off their parents too.  

“For them to have a way to communicate to people ‘my child might have a different set of needs than a lot of the kids that you see.’ It just helps them feel more comfortable and it’s just a way to communicate that to the community,” Dr.Hood adds.  

She says this blue pumpkin pail initiative might seem like a small gesture, but says knowledge and gestures convey louder messages then we could imagine. 

“The more and more awareness that is out there lead to more and more acceptance, and so I think the more we do stories like this that explain what the blue pumpkin is that help people understand, so when they do get somebody with a blue pumpkin on their doorstep, they know what that means,” Dr. Hood says. 

The blue pumpkin pails for autism started as a Facebook plea from a mother that went viral. 

See the post below: 

This isn’t the first time the color of a Halloween bucket was meant to signify a special meaning.  The ‘Teal Pumpkin Project’ started a few years ago as a way to let people know the trick-or-treater experienced food allergies.

If you have questions about autism or resources for your child visit the Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center for Learning.

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