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Mom urges use of blue Halloween buckets to raise autism awareness

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A mom looking to make her son's Halloween a better experience has made an impact on tens of thousands of people. Omairis Taylor posted about her 3-year-old son on Facebook, explaining that he has nonverbal autism, and trick-or-treating has been difficult for them in the past.

Last year, she said, she had to explain at every house for five blocks that her son was not going to say "trick or treat" because he is nonverbal. "This year we will be trying the BLUE BUCKET to signify he has autism," she wrote.

"Please allow him (or any other person with a BLUE BUCKET) to enjoy this day and don't worry I'll still say TRICK OR TREAT for him, ill get my mom candy tax later," the post continued. "This holiday is hard enough without any added stress. Thank you in advance."

Taylor shared a photo of a traditional pumpkin-shaped Halloween candy bucket that was a bright electric blue. She also added a "P.S." to her Facebook post: "I have made this post public in hopes you will share and get the BLUE BUCKET message out there for Autism Awareness this Halloween."

Taylor's plan seems to have worked — the post was shared over 120,000 times. Countless people are now informed that children with blue Halloween buckets may be non-verbal, or may have difficulty trick-or-treating. While Taylor helped raise awareness about blue buckets, this Halloween tip isn't brand new.

Last year, Autism Speaks also recommended children with autism use blue buckets, sharing the story of a 21-year-old with autism who loves to trick-or-treat.

"If you see someone who appears to be an adult dressed up to trick or treat this year carrying this blue bucket, he's our son!" a mother named Alicia Plumer wrote. "His name is BJ & he is autistic. While he has the body of a 21 year old, he loves Halloween. Please help us keep his spirit alive & happy. So when you see the blue bucket share a piece of candy. Spread awareness! These precious people are not too big to trick or treat."

Autism Speaks's repost of Plumer's message was shared nearly 20,000 times. The group also offers advice on its website to help make Halloween fun for everyone.

Another organization has also used brightly colored pumpkins to help children who may have difficulty celebrating Halloween. The Teal Pumpkin Project is a campaign initiated by the non-profit organization Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).

"With one in 13 kids having a food allergy here in the U.S., chances are that one of these kids lives right down your block," said FARE's Nancy Gregory.

Inspired by efforts in an east Tennessee town, the Teal Pumpkin Project encourages people to paint a pumpkin teal — an aqua-blue hue — or download and print a free sign to place outside of their house on Halloween and offer non-food treats such as stickers, light sticks, or brightly colored bracelets. That way, kids with food allergies and their parents will know there's Halloween treat they can enjoy at those homes.

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