This Halloween Teal and Blue are The New Orange for Parents of Children With Food Allergies, Autism ūüéÉ

Autism and Food Allergies Awareness at Halloween

Blue Pumpkin Bucket with Teal Pumpkin watercolor and ink by Julianna Paradisi 2019

This Halloween, Teal and Blue are the new orange for parents of children with food allergies, and autism.

Recently, I learned of two newish movements that merit recognition for championing the health and happiness of children while trick or treating. Both choose pumpkins of different shades of blue to alert the public to their causes.

Teal Pumpkins Help Children with Food Allergies Participate in Halloween Fun

How difficult Halloween must be for parents of children with food allergies! Imagine taking your favorite Disney character or Marvel superhero trick or treating, only to remove almost the entire loot from their buckets or bags at home, because most trick or treat candies contain allergens like dairy products, peanuts, dyes, etc. It must be heartbreaking to have to explain to your child¬†again¬†why they can’t eat the same goodies other kids do.

The Teal Pumpkin Project offers an inclusive alternative for children with food allergies at Halloween. By placing a teal pumpkin outside your door, you signal to children with food allergies and their parents that you are giving out non-food items for treats. The website creates neighborhood maps of homes offering non-food item treats, and you can add your home. Or, simply paint a real pumpkin from a pumpkin patch or grocery store teal, and put it on your doorstep or windowsill.

Here’s a list of inexpensive non-food items from their website:

Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
Mini Slinkies
Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
Bouncy balls
Finger puppets or novelty toys
Spider rings
Vampire fangs
Mini notepads
Playing cards

They do caution that some modeling clay products may contain wheat, and avoid products with latex. Age appropriateness and avoiding choking hazards should also be considered.

Blue Halloween Pumpkin Buckets: Be considerate of children, teenagers, and young adults with Autism enjoying Halloween

This Halloween, you may notice children, teenagers, and young adults carrying blue plastic pumpkin buckets. This became a thing last year when a mother wrote a social media post that went viral, asking people to please not require her non-verbal three year-old to say, “Trick or Treat!” to receive candy. She went on to explain that Halloween can be an engaging social event for children, teenagers, or young adults with autism, so be considerate of those who don’t respond verbally, or appear to be a bit “old” for trick or treating. This is good advice even if a person isn’t carrying a blue Halloween pumpkin bucket, because by showing kindness to strangers some have entertained angels unawares.

Blue pumpkin candy buckets can be purchased online.

Celebrations are more enjoyable when no one is left out. I’m grateful for opportunities to make Halloween activities fun for all.




Velcome to My FrankenMess: When Art & Food Go Awry

Velcome to My FrankenMess. photo: jparadisi 2012

Welcome to my FrankenMess. For Halloween, I tried dipping pretzel sticks into melted icing to make them look like candy corn on a stick, √† la Pinterest. This is what they turned out looking like before I gave up. I’m an artist, damn it! Curse You, Pinterest!!!

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!

This Ghoul Will be Your Nurse Tonight: Should Nurses Wear Halloween Costumes to Work?

This IS My Costume. photo: jparadisi 2011

I dodged a bullet this week. My coworkers are wearing costumes to work on Halloween. I was scheduled to work that day, but on Friday a nurse asked to trade shifts, so I don’t have to decide whether or not to wear a costume. This year I won’t feel like the spoilsport among my coworkers. Don’t get me wrong, I like Halloween, costumes, jack o’lanterns, and all that. I just wonder if they are appropriate in patient care areas?

Nurses wearing costumes to work on Halloween aren’t limited to my unit. The entire hospital celebrates with costume contests (individual and department categories), decorations, and special treats. It’s intended to build enthusiasm and rapport among employees. There are written guidelines about what sort of costumes and decorations are not appropriate. Respect for gender, race, political, and religious beliefs is emphasized. Costumes and decorations cannot be gory or represent death. They cannot interfere with patient care either.

Earlier this month, Buckman elementary school principal Brian Anderson, in Portland, Oregon was included in an article in The Huffington Post because he banned costumes at the school. He took heat from parents, and sparked a national controversy on whether he was being fair.  The Portland Mercury quotes Anderson as saying:

For many reasons, the celebration of Halloween at school can lead to student exclusion. There are social, financial and cultural differences among our families that we must respect. The spirit of equity has led most PPS (Portland Public Schools) schools, including most elementary schools, to deemphasize the celebration of Halloween at school.

He has a point. Critics argue that banning Halloween costumes from schools is taking political correctness too far.

But what about hospitals and nurses?

Halloween costumes are allowed in every hospital I’ve worked for, however, I never wore one to work. In the PICU, there were so many painful situations that, for me, costumes felt out of place, yet I don’t recall a single patient or parent expressing disapproval of nurses dressed as witches or scarecrows. Now that I am an outpatient adult oncology nurse, I still don’t wear costumes to work. I have not heard complaints from our patients about the nurses who do.

What do other nurses and health care providers think about this? I also wonder what patients and people from other walks of life have to say.

Happy Halloween/Feliz Dias de las Muertas

Bones (Redivivus) 36" x 30" 2007 oil on canvas by JParadisi (SOLD)

Halloween Brain Cactus

Halloween Brain Cactus photo JParadisi

Halloween Brain Cactus photo JParadisi

¬†I bought¬†my favorite 10 year-old a brain cactus as a Halloween gift. He like cars, motorcycles, skateboards, and some trading card game¬†about fantasy characters with superpowers. He also likes houseplants.¬†¬†The cactus¬†is a hardy¬†introduction to the care of houseplants. He’s remembered to feed the frogs I gave him last summer, and they¬†thrive.¬† He’s¬†a natural at nurturing, and perhaps¬†I should¬†give him an orchid instead.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† But,¬†I bought him a¬†brain cactus,¬†and it’s cool.¬†I remember¬†my grandmother’s Christmas cactus and African violets, when I was a child. By the time I was in junior high school, I had¬†my own collection¬†of over 50 houseplants in¬†the 8′ x 11′ bedroom I shared with my younger sister. To hear her tell the story, you’d think I was¬†Seymour Krelborn ¬†from the Little Shop of Horrors. It wasn’t that bad.¬† She exaggerates. She likes a good story as much as I do.

“Se non e¬†¬†vero e ben trovato.”

(“Even if it is not true, it is a good story.”)

                                                        Italian Proverb

¬†¬†¬†¬† At 1o, this boy is¬†pretty interesting. What’s interesting about him, is¬†his¬†curiosity¬†about the people and¬†world around him, whether¬†they relate directly to him¬†and his life, or not.¬† He’s interested in things beyond his own desires and centric self, and that makes him interesting.

¬†¬†¬†¬† I read somewhere it’s what we’re interested in that makes us interesting, and I think this is true. One of the many things I enjoy about nursing is the opportunity to hear other peoples’ stories about who¬†they¬†are, when they are not a patient. Frequently I am surprised by the accomplishments and talents¬†of the people I meet. It’s the same¬†curiosity that¬†impels¬†artists and¬†writers to ask questions and observe the people and world around us, feeding our creativity.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†My father used tell me, in his¬†Italian accent, “Sweetheart, never stop to devil-up (he meant develop, English was his second language) your mind.¬†Stay cue-rious (curious).” It¬†is good advice, and I hope I haven’t disappointed him as I’ve grown. ¬†I don’t think I have.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

Happy Halloween!                                                                                                                       

Brain Cactus photo JParadisi

Brain Cactus photo JParadisi