TAMPA, Fla. — Everyone should be able to enjoy trick-or-treating, but for some little ones and their parents, it's more trick than treat.
"He would knock on the door and people would basically hold their candy hostage until they got a 'Trick-or-treat!' They looked at it as him not having good manners because he couldn't say it," Jenifer Band said.
Band's son Cody was diagnosed with Autism at 25 months. He was nonverbal when he was growing up, and that made celebrating Halloween a little challenging.
"Words can't really describe how that felt when he was being rejected in that way. It was heartbreaking," Band said.
Cody's interest in Halloween peaked when he was 18. He could talk but still wasn't able to articulate how his autism made him a little different than his friends. Now, at 22-years-old, blue pumpkins have changed that.
"They make me feel included," Cody Band said.
The family has been working to make those with autism feel accepted in the community. Their Autism Awareness Shop and Thrift Store sells things to do just that. This year they're selling blue pumpkins for anyone who wants them this Halloween. Trick-or-treaters can carry the blue, plastic pumpkins as a signal, as they collect candy.
"Using these blue pumpkins will help individuals answering the door for trick-or-treaters understand and have a little bit more compassion and patience. Autism is an amazing gift and a very big challenge at the same time," Band said.
The family hopes the pumpkins will make things a little sweeter this holiday.
"I feel like it's very similar to the teal pumpkin and it just makes it to where the holiday can be enjoyable to those with autism as well as everyone else," Band said.
The Bands have sold more than 350 of the blue pumpkins. You can find them at their store up until Halloween.
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