Put a Teal Pumpkin on the Front Porch
It happens every year as Halloween approaches. I get this slight feeling of anxiety. It’s not a big or overwhelming, but just a little discomfort at what the holiday might bring for us this year.
Maci was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in 2007. So, you may be thinking that my uneasiness with the holiday swirls around ghosts and goblins – and a generally over-stimulating environment. While, indeed the nature of the holiday is a factor, it goes beyond costumes.
After Maci’s diagnosis, we had Maci tested for food allergies and sensitivities. Like most people, I was familiar with food allergies but not food sensitivities. A food allergy is an abnormal immune response to food. Reactions are typically noticeable and may include rashes, eczema, asthma, vomiting and hives. Food sensitivities, however, are more subtle and often present in a delayed fashion. These intolerances or sensitivities result from the absence of specific chemicals or enzymes needed to properly digest food and our gastro-intestinal response to foods. Over time, this can lead to leaky gut, irritable bowl syndrome, diverticulitis and diverticulosis.
We were surprised to learn that Maci did not test positive for any food allergies, but she did for many food intolerances or sensitivities. We began a new gluten-free, organic, non-preservative and sugar-free diet immediately to begin to heal her gut and help her to learn how to take care of herself with these food sensitivities.
So, you can see, with Halloween, it is difficult with all the candy, foods and other items that cause problems for her but are part of the holiday tradition. It highlights Maci’s disability and makes it harder for her to participate. It’s difficult for both of us.
But, there is something we can all do to make Halloween fun for everyone. I came across on article in Better Homes and Garden last month on The Teal Pumpkin Project. It was developed by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) which has a goal to make sure all children celebrate a safe, happy Halloween.
By displaying a teal pumpkin outside the front door, it lets kids and parent know you’ll be handing out food-free trinkets. The website provides DIY ideas and more information about creating an inclusive atmosphere for all trick-or-treaters. The trinkets and food-safe items are super fun, great for playing and last much longer than the candy.
Join me, spread the word and let’s work together to make teal the new orange this Halloween!
Marikay Cuthill is mother of Maci, a vibrant, curious 13-year-old on the Autism Spectrum, and the founder of Maci And Pebble, a community dedicated to helping people navigate autism by finding answers, direction and peace of mind. Learn more at www.maciandpebble.com
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