SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Did you know that noticing the color of a child’s Halloween bucket is important for both those trick or treating and those handing out the candy?

From epilepsy to autism, diabetes, and allergies to anxiety and depression, our little ones are living in a world of complex mental and physical issues that often get overlooked by those who haven’t experienced these conditions first- or secondhand.

Teal buckets stand for allergies

Did you know that one out of every 13 children has a food allergy? Many of the candies common during trick-or-treating can harm children with such allergies, even if the candy has only had cross-contact and does not contain the actual ingredient that causes an allergic reaction in the child.

Also consider how warm costumes are — you don’t a child want to feel too hot or too cold while trick or treating. Image: KTAL files

Homes that place Teal buckets by their front doors signify that they understand allergies are a major issue for a significant number of children. These homes are “safe houses” for kids with allergies, and this good neighbor policy really shows that the homeowner has an awareness of food allergies.

If you want to give out allergy-friendly candy, consider passing out Dum Dum suckers, Smarties, Dots, Skittles, Starburst, Junior Mints, Jolly Ranchers, organic gummy bears, Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, Nerds, Sixlets, Blow Pops, Peppermint Patties, Rolos, Twizzlers, Sweedish Fish, Sour Patch Kids, Milk Duds, Airheads, Dubble Bubble, Ring Pops, Caramel Apple Pops, and Laffy Taffy.

And for those who are out on the streets with children who have food allergies, try following a few of these tips for a safe, adventurous Halloween:

  • Stock up on safe treats and small toys that you can trade for any of the candy that is unsafe for your child to eat. In this way, your child will not feel like you’re a big ole’ meanie who is taking away the best pieces of their candy.
  • Before you go trick-or-treating, make a rule that there will be no eating of candy while trick-or-treating–you will need to review all labels to make certain your child doesn’t have an allergic reaction.
  • Teach your kid how to avoid eating any treats that don’t have labels, and teach them how to sort through the candy themselves. This will be a lifelong skill they will need to acquire as soon as possible.
  • Create a sweet and unforgettable memory for your little one with an exhilarating candy-sorting game!
  • Keep your child’s epinephrine injector near your child while you’re trick or treating.
  • Demonstrate your love and care for your child’s health and happiness by taking the necessary steps to ensure their safety. Make “goody bags” for your neighbors to offer your child. A thoughtful gesture like this can go a long way in building strong relationships with your community.
  • And last but not least, is the biggest rule of all: have a great time with that special little one in your life. Halloween is fun, and you’re making very special memories.

Purple buckets stand for epilepsy

Almost half a million children and 3.4 million adults in the United States have epilepsy.

Whether you realize it or not, you’re around children who have epilepsy–out of every 1000 students approximately six of those students have been diagnosed.

Epilepsy can be caused by a brain tumor, a traumatic brain injury or head injury, a central nervous system infection, or a stroke. But oftentimes, the cause of a person’s epilepsy is unknown.

For parents and children with epilepsy, Halloween can be a scary time. That’s why a Purple Pumpkin Project Facebook page was started in Sept. 2012. Within days the page, which stands for epilepsy awareness, had more than 1000 likes by families in the United States. Purple Pumpkin Projects events began popping up across the world and linking to the PPP FB page, and today, Epilepsy Foundation affiliates across the world use purple Halloween pumpkins to bring Epilepsy awareness into our communities.

If you would like to give away candy that is Ketogenic-friendly to kids who have epilepsy, consider buying treats from Choc Zero, a company that specializes in keto-friendly candies. Lily’s gummy bears are also keto-friendly, as are Dr. Atkins diet Caramel Almond Clusters, Atkins diet Peanut Butter Cups, and Oomph! fruit chews.

If you’re the parent or a caregiver of a child with epilepsy, trick or treating on Halloween can be easier if you follow these tips:

  • Make sure your child has taken all medications.
  • Watch out for strobe lights in Halloween displays that can trigger your child’s symptoms.
  • Even if your child is a teenager and doesn’t want to go trick or treating with you, make sure he or she has a friend with them that can help if they have a seizure because of the chaos and noise.
  • For young kids, make certain to be back home before your child’s bedtime.
  • Give your child alternatives if their diet doesn’t allow candy. You can have a Halloween party for them and friends, or you can make trick-or-treat bags for your child that you give to neighbors in advance of the big night.
  • Make sure your child has on their medical alert bracelet while they’re trick or treating, and make certain that someone who understands epilepsy is accompanying your child at all times during Halloween festivities.
  • And last but not least is the biggest rule of all: have a great time with that special little one in your life. Halloween is fun, and you’re making very special memories.

Blue buckets stand for autism

One out of every 36 children in the United States has been diagnosed with autism, and at least 1% of the world’s population finds themselves somewhere on the autistic spectrum.

More than 75 million people in this world have an autism spectrum disorder. The prevalence of autism has increased by more than 178% since the year 2000.

That’s why the blue bucket campaign for children and some adults with autism spectrum disorders is important. The campaign began by accident when Alicia Plumer, the mother of a 21-year-old who still loved Halloween and wanted to trick or treat despite his age.

“Please help us keep his spirit alive & happy,” she wrote on social media. “So when you see the blue bucket, share a piece of candy. Spread awareness. These precious people are not “too big” to trick or treat.”

The blue bucket has been found to be very helpful for some people on the spectrum. However, there are parents and caregivers who believe the blue buckets may make kids and young adults with autism feel embarrassed or become vulnerable targets for bullying and other forms of abuse.

Other parents and caregivers say the blue buckets are a subtle way of allowing children and parents who live life on the autistic spectrum to trick or treat with a sense of dignity.

If you’re a homeowner and a child with a blue bucket knocks on your door, understand that:

  • Many people on the autistic spectrum have difficulty making eye contact.
  • Sometimes, people on the spectrum aren’t sure how to interact in social situations.
  • Some people on the spectrum do not speak at all.
  • The senses of those on the spectrum may become overwhelmed, so loud music and flashing lights can cause someone with an autistic spectrum disorder to become overstimulated.
  • Displaying empathy for others is particularly important when you interact with someone on the autistic spectrum. Just treat others the way you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes.
  • And the biggest rule of all is to have a great time with that special little one in your life. Halloween is fun, and you’re making very special memories.

Orange buckets stand for hope

Traditional orange buckets have a significant meaning, too. The color represents fire or a light in the darkness, which equals hope. And though this is the most popular color of candy buckets this time of year, orange buckets can serve as a reminder that almost 10% of children between three and 17 years old have been diagnosed with anxiety, and more than 4% of American children have been diagnosed with clinical depression.

That’s almost 6 million children who suffer from anxiety in this nation. 2.7 million kids who battle depression.

Those are incredibly significant numbers.

Monster-filled streets aren’t easy to deal with when you’re young, but the very idea of monsters can cause extreme fear in children who are already prone to anxiety.

Orange buckets are not set aside as the color of a Halloween bucket for children who suffer from mental health issues. But we, as adults, can use the orange buckets to trigger ourselves to remember how many children in this world have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

If you are the parent or caregiver of a child with anxiety and/or depression, understand that:

  • For many kids, Halloween is an exciting time to dress up and go trick-or-treating. However, for some children with anxiety, this holiday can trigger separation anxiety when they have to be away from their loved ones. It can be a difficult time for both the child and their family, but with understanding and support, they can still enjoy the spooky festivities.
  • Halloween is a time when many children come face to face with their phobias, which may trigger anxiety and depression.
  • It’s important to recognize that some children may feel uneasy or nervous about social events at school, such as parties or even seeing their classmates in different costumes. By acknowledging their feelings and providing a safe and supportive environment, we can help them build the confidence and social skills they need to navigate these situations successfully.

Homeowners should consider that many children have sudden and intense feelings of fear that make their hearts pound and sometimes cause breathing difficulties. Kids suffering from anxiety may feel dizzy, shake, or begin sweating profusely.

To calm a child when they are experiencing fear, help them identify their triggers, validate their feelings, show them empathy, and challenge their ways of thinking that are causing them to feel anxious. You can even practice deep breathing with a child who is experiencing extreme anxiety.

But don’t minimize their feelings or label the emotions they are feeling as “bad.”

And last but not least is the biggest rule of all: have a great time with that special little one in your life. Halloween is fun, and you’re making very special memories.

If you’re a homeowner who wants to pass out treats that help children relieve stress, consider passing out sour candies that trigger a sensory shock and can distract a child’s mind from an experience with anxiety. Consider candies like Haribo Sour Streamers, Sour Big Chewy Nerds, Warheads, or Haribo’s Twin Snakes which are both sweet and sour.

Watch out for children with diabetes

Almost 300,000 children in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes, with a much higher percentage of American Indians, Mexican Americans, and non-Hispanic Blacks being diagnosed than those of other ethnicities.

As all parents of diabetic children know, trick or treating can be especially difficult when diabetes is involved. But trick or treating is certainly not off limits.

Follow these tips for a fun, safe Halloween with your little one who loves sugar but can’t dig into a Halloween bucket that’s filled with sugar:

  • Focus on your child’s costume and point out other amazing costumes as you’re walking around your neighborhood while trick-or-treating.
  • Spend time carving a Halloween pumpkin, and invite your child’s friends over to carve, too!
  • Bob for apples.
  • Make a Halloween face-painting booth in your front yard on Halloween and let the trick-or-treaters come to your child for Halloween stickers, pencils, and face-painting giggles
  • Help children with diabetes find their favorite sugar-free Halloween treat recipes and make these special treats for them year after year.
  • And last but not least is the biggest rule of all: have a great time with that special little one in your life. Halloween is fun, and you’re making very special memories.