My little Doodle Boy was diagnosed with Autism when he was 2. Like most moms with a child with special needs, I’m determined to make sure that he has all the same opportunities and experiences as other children do. Unfortunately, after a traumatic experience last Halloween, I determined that we were done with Trick or Treating because it was too stressful and upsetting for all of us. Because of my son’s diagnosis, he sometimes has difficulty waiting. He loves candy, but can also be kind of picky. Last year, he was able to get a hand free to pull a candy bowl that a neighbor was holding towards him just to get a closer look at what was inside. My husband quickly intervened and apologized to the neighbor, explaining that our son had Autism. The man not only angrily snatched the candy from my son, but slammed the door on us. I still have not forgotten the look on his face almost a full year later. Our Doodles began to engage in self injurious behavior, hitting himself repeatedly and flopping to the ground. It was a very long walk home after that. We were exhausted - physically and emotionally, cutting short Halloween for our other neurotypical son.
I knew there must be other families in my community who could relate in some shape or form, so I reached out via my town’s Facebook page to gauge interest in an idea that I have. My idea was to have easily identifiable signs/flyers made up that neighbors could post on their door or window that boldly says “WE GET IT” so that families like mine know which houses they can Trick or Treat where they will feel welcomed and accepted. I got an OVERWHELMING response from my neighbors and the idea is spreading to nearby communities who also want to participate.
With the help of a neighbor, who happens to be the Pastor of a nearby church and tech/design guru, a logo for this mission was created. His church donated 100 signs for our neighbors to place on their lawns. Once word spread, we realized there was not enough to go around to everyone to have one. I was racking my brain trying to come up with a fundraising idea when another super generous neighbor donated another 100 signs!!! In addition to the lawn signs, a flyer was created so that anyone anywhere could participate easily. The flyer is double sided: one side for the sign itself and the back includes helpful tips and suggestions for neighbors who want to be accommodating to special needs children this Halloween. We then had these flyers printed on bright orange paper so that when neighbors posted it on their front doors and windows it would be visible. My hope is that this simple idea encourages everyone to be more understanding and kind and it extends well past Halloween.