Halloween Is a Real Fright Night For Kids With Food Allergies
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I stopped trick or treating when I was 10 years old. I didn’t think I was too cool or too old to go. It’s just when I could no longer eat the candy it became a lot less fun. My type 1 diabetes diagnosis a few months earlier meant I had to find an alternative to this much anticipated fall ritual. I honestly can’t recall what we did that first year, perhaps a family Halloween party? It wasn’t an issue for too long however. I become a teenager, way too cool for any activity involving my Mom or family.

The fact that I stopped trick or treating didn’t dampen my love of Halloween. I love decorating the house, watching the Great Pumpkin and being on the other side of the door on Halloween. Several years ago I did decide to STOP handing out candy. I found fun toys and treats from Target and Oriental Trading Company like Fun Bands and temporary tattoos. Some called me a humbug. I knew that the kids would have no problem filling their bags with sugary snacks. I just wanted to give parents an option. I’ve never had a complaint. In fact the kids squeal with delight at the Fun Bands and the parents often tell me thank you.

My original reason to stop handing out fun size chocolates was about trying to reduce the sugar rush. I’ve also become more sensitive in recent years to the fact that there are many children for whom Halloween is a much scarier time. Children with food allergies, much like me with diabetes, can’t partake in the usual Halloween treats. This means a treasured childhood ritual is off limits.

Since I know what it feels like to be “excluded”, I was really excited to hear about the Pumpkin Teal Project. Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) is organizing this effort to help bring back the fun of Halloween to ALL kids. From their website:

This Halloween, FARE is encouraging food allergy families to start a new tradition: painting a pumpkin teal and placing it on your porch as a sign to other families managing food allergies that you have non-food treats available at your home. Your teal pumpkin is also a way to raise awareness in your neighborhood about food allergies!

This year, I’ll be putting a teal pumpkin out front to let families know that my house is safe place to get a fun non-food treat. If you’re interested in participating too but need some ideas in addition to those I previously mentioned, here are some other ideas:

  • Glow bracelets. I make sure they are lit up as I hand them out. Kids often put them on before the leave my house and parents love the extra element of safety.
  • Puzzles. Mini jigsaw puzzles and MadLibs are so much fun and give kids something to do long after the Kit Kats are gone.
  • Stickers. They don’t feel like much to you or me but the little ones love them. Things that are bright, even glow in the dark, seem to be the most popular.
  • Coupons for goods and services. I have a friend who owns a martial arts studio. He makes coupons for free intro lessons. I often include these along with another toy or non-candy treat.

I think my own Mom would have appreciated this option when I was a kid. It would have been nice to have some safe places to go besides my grandparents’ house. I’ll have my teal pumpkin out Halloween night to give parents a way to make this Halloween a little less scary.

Will you join me? What non-food treat will you be handing out?

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