BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)– October 31 is a day when kids shriek with joy over ghouls, goblins, and free candy. But for children on the autism spectrum it can be tricky trying to get those treats.
“There’s issues relating to safety, stranger danger that those children don’t understand and trick-or-treating for families on the spectrum isn’t all that enjoyable” said Dr.Nichole Eaton of the Buffalo Autism Project.
Members of the Buffalo Autism Project have set out to make trick or treating a little easier for them. The organization started a sensory trick or treat at the Buffalo Zoo so all kids can enjoy Halloween.
“My son’s on the spectrum and there are a lot of times when he doesn’t go trick or treating and just stays in the house . So this gives him an opportunity to go trick or treating without being overwhelmed by going door to door,” said Laura Moeller president of the Buffalo Autism Project.
It started in 2018 with around 300 kids. Now, more than a thousand people have signed up to participate in the event.
Kids can come with or without a costume and there’s not only candy, but beads, necklaces, and other sensory friendly items to help little ones relax.
“We made sure that it’s not over- crowded. We have a room that kids can go to where they can be alone and calm themselves down if they get overwhelmed,” Moeller said.
Parents say it’s a relief to not have to explain the sudden melt- downs that come frequently with kids on the spectrum.
“This is great because everyone is on the same level and everyone can understand what you’re going through,” said Jason Valentine, a Buffalo parent whose daughter Ariel is autistic.
Moeller said she plans to hold the event every year to take away the spectrum stigma and also give parents like her a day when they don’t feel judged.
“For me it’s for the parents, the kids they love it but for me I think I get more excited to see the parents and give them that opportunity,” Moeller said.
The Buffalo Autism Project is holding a bar crawl on October 29 to help raise scholarship funds for students on the spectrum. Click here for more information.