Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween 2015: The Teal Pumpkin

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Well here we are years later and Noah's dislike for Halloween continues.   I had hopes - as I always do, that this year will be the year where the sensory challenges disappear.  No such luck.   We had a costume dress rehearsal earlier in the week to make sure everything fit and was going to work okay.  Noah and Luke were sent cute costumes from Ween Dream, a foundation that assists financially struggling families and children with special needs with Halloween costumes.  Luke was sent an Iron man costume and Noah's Spiderman.  They both really looked super cute. 

It's odd to look at a costume on the hanger and think wow these are huge they'll never fit my little boys.  And then realize that your little boys suddenly aren't so little anymore and grew when you weren't looking and not only do they fit, but they have no room to spare.   My first clue that Halloween wasn't going to go well was when Noah glanced at his little brother fully in clothed in his costume and began to gag at the sight of him.   Apparently Spiderman does not like Iron man. 
However, I did think maybe Noah was just having a moment, he's had a rocky few weeks and I'm trying not to worry, as special needs children are sometimes just like this.  It's an ever changing and evolving kind of thing.  That's why I still one day think maybe Noah is going to be able to overcome his SPD (or so I hope for his sake as it is genuinely hard on him.)

Luke being the incredible little brother that he is - and I really mean that,  took off his costume to make Noah feel better.  At the tender age of four he's so incredibly mature, receptive and understanding.   We figured maybe if we were leaving the house in costume Noah may feel a bit differently about it all.  But that didn't prove to be the case.   We opted to put Noah in a Special Tomato Stroller that we have had for years, thinking it would be less heavy to carry him up residential stairs.  And yes, we still lift Noah up and down stairs in a wheelchair so that he can participate.  Our bodies I know will hate us later for it.  I had thought about the Upsee, but in the dark I was nervous about not being able to see where I was walking well.  And Noah's Spiderman muscles would have been hard to cram into his Upsee Harness.
Noah & Family 2015 Pumpkin Carvings
As soon as costumes were on Noah gagged and threw up.  Classic display of how his sensory processing disorder presents itself.  He literally makes himself sick.   We cleaned him up thought maybe it would get better, headed out the door to our first house.  As soon as the neighbor opened their door, Noah threw up again.  Luke didn't even have a chance to utter the words Trick-or-Treat first.   We cleaned him up, went to the second house - same thing.  Door opened Noah threw up.  The homeowner worried asking us if we needed kleenex.   No one in the neighborhood has really met Noah - they see us out an about I'm sure but have no idea that Noah does this as a sensory defense.   So, they probably all thought we were taking a sick child out trick-or-treating which wasn't the case.  By our fifth door I told Chris to take Noah home and that I'd continue on alone with Luke so he'd have the experience.  

Thank goodness there are two of us in this together so that we can share trying to balance two children with different abilities and needs.   Luke and I on our 6th house stumbled on a Teal Pumpkin.  I certainly didn't ever expect to see one in my own neighborhood.  A teal pumpkin symbolizes a home that has non-edible treats for children like Noah or who have special dietary needs and can't eat candy for whatever reason.   We were handed a little bouncy ball for Noah which I put in Noah's candy bag that I was still carrying around with Luke.   It was really nice to see a teal pumpkin.  I guess it's just nice to feel thought of - what about those like Noah who can only eat purees and can't really eat candy or chew - they deserve treats too. 

There are some that I know who think that if your child has special needs like a peanut allergy, food allergy or special needs like Noah who can't consume candy or who have a gtube should be left home on Halloween because neighbors shouldn't have to cater to special requests or needs.  Homeowners actually getting offended if a child says "No peanuts please" or a child who can't say "Trick-or-Treat."  It's real and it's sadly still very much happening even as I wake up today and read about how people's Halloween experiences went.   Yes, maybe we should just keep them home, but we're trying to give our children this incredible and beautiful childhood just like typical children get to experience.  We want them to have memories too, not just I got left behind because the world is not a tolerant, understanding or loving place. 

I don't know if door to door Halloween Trick-Or-Treating is in Noah's future or not next year.  I do know that his sensory challenges can be dangerous for him - especially if he were to aspirate while trying to recover from one of his gag and vomit episodes.  But I really do hope that the teal pumpkin catches on even more in years to come.  That we see a growing trend of homeowners wanting to be a part of including all children the best they can. 

Here are some great ideas for Teal Pumpkin Treats for those curious about what they might be able to include:
Glow Sticks
Sidewalk Chalk
Bouncy Balls
Halloween Washable Tattoos
Activity Books
Plastic Spider Rings

And if you aren't up for painting a pumpkin teal, you can simply hang and print out this sign:

And although this doesn't apply to us specifically because we're now homeschooling, please give thought to your child's Halloween parties at school.  There are lots of children who can't eat cupcakes and goodies.  Consider doing two treats, a sweet and non-sweet so that everyone can be included.  I know you think it's not important if your child can eat a treat and why should you have to care about someone else's child... I get it.  I know it can totally put a cramp in your Martha Stewart perfect party planning.  But there are so many of us out there that have to sit on the sidelines.  Think of our children too, they matter I promise they do.


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.