A Penticton parent has come up with an idea to raise awareness about autism and to remind people to be conscious when handing out candy this Halloween. Submitted photo

Okanagan parent hopes to ease stress on autistic trick-or-treaters

Parent reminding those handing out candy, kids with special needs will be coming to their doors

An Okanagan parent hopes a sign on his little trick-or-treater will help bring awareness that kids with special needs will be coming to your doors on Halloween night.

“I saw the idea on Pinterest at some point and thought this would work great for us. My son is autistic and at three years old, he is the size of a five year old so people expect that he can talk. It can become very stressful when you have to apologize, especially on Halloween night, hundreds of times,” said Sean Hunt, who lives in Penticton. “I am always looking for ways to make things easier for him and any other parents out there.”

Related: Making air travel more friendly for kids with autism

Hunt, who runs Combat Athletics Okanagan which has a special needs program, is very aware of the challenges of ensuring special needs children are included in all activities. With his son being more mobile this year, he wants to get the jump on any potential challenges that might pose on Halloween.

“As a parent with a child with a disability, you don’t want to deny your child any activity that is seen as normal activity for kids. In terms of my child, he is non-verbal and can get aggressive when he gets into a social situation that he might not understand. The hope here is that having the simple sign that will hang around his neck, that he won’t notice or care about, brings awareness to people at the door.”

Hunt said his son may push his way through kids to get to the door or grab handfuls of candy and think it is a normal thing.

Related: Brentley’s journey with autism

“It is not that he is being mean, he simply doesn’t understand and may think that is normal behaviour.”

Hunt has shared the idea to a Facebook group he belongs to called the Invisible’s, created for parents of kids with autism and other special needs and has received positive feedback. He said events like Halloween can be particular tough on autistic kids because their disability might not always be noticeable on first sight.

“We ask people at the door to be patient and if they can, get down to their level. Don’t rush and be understanding that these kids may grab more than their share of candy because they don’t understand or might have fine motor control issues. People handing out the candy can also ask the other kids to give them some room,” Hunt suggests.

Related: B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Other reminders for those handing candy are that a child may not say trick-or-treat or thank you because they are non-verbal, they may not be wearing a costume because of sensory issues and it might take them longer to pick out one piece of candy.

“This is all about bringing awareness. When it comes to Halloween, and other events, it can forgotten that kids like my son are coming directly to them. It is important to be conscious that he might not act the same way as other kids.”

Hunt is offering the template to parents who also want the same sign, or he can create one for $5 which will cover the costs of the supplies.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Kristi Patton | Editor

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