We’re closing in on Halloween and like many families dealing with autism and other special needs, the dreaded candy bag is back.
As a father who remembers the gluttony of pillowcases full of chocolate (largest bags we could take) as a child, it’s been a very hard transition to what my own kids are experiencing.
Shortly after our son was diagnosed, we ran a TRICARE-covered allergy panel. The result was a bit overwhelming: 44 food allergies and sensitivities.
Since that time, our family has experienced a plethora of dietary restrictions, from being GFCFSF+++++ to bean-counting numbers of the low oxylate diet. We’ve dealt with elimination of gluten, casein, soy, what seems like a million other foods and the non-food artificial colors or flavors. What we’ve faced would be enough to spook the most ardent parents of common-sense nutrition goals.
For many of our families certain foods may not cause life-threatening allergic reactions, but can trigger mild to extreme behavioral changes. An example of this would be our discovery years ago that anything with Red 40 caused our son to become aggressive with his brother.
The time and energy employed to find replacement candies and treats for the kids has been a lot of work. If only other houses were doing what we have to do, our roles as parents could be refocused on the experience and not the logistics of basically building the entire night ourselves.
Fortunately, there are many others in similar circumstances as ours.
This Halloween, the organization Food Allergy and Education or FARE has created a campaign to raise awareness of food allergies. It’s called the Teal Pumpkin Project. The color Teal represents food allergy awareness.
Our family has been struggling with the reality of what to hand-out Friday night. Typically I make a last-minute run by the BX, Commissary or grocery store on the way home, but this year we’re going to do things a bit different.
The campaign encourages families to provide some alternatives to traditional candy for trick-or-treaters, such as pencils, bookmarks or small toys. A listing of options is available on their website.
Part of the effort is painting a pumpkin teal and putting it out front of your door with a sign to let people know you have non-food treats available. If you have allergy-sensitive options to give out, please consider printing out the poster from FARE. You can download the PDF here.