As parents of four children we can recall many happy years of trick or treating. Some of their favorite costumes included a pumpkin, a ladybug and even a yellow crayon. Our daughter Danielle was born two weeks before Halloween. That year we took our two sons, Brendan and Colin, along with newborn Danielle to a Halloween party at the nursing home where David worked as a physical therapist. All of the residents were delighted to see the children in their costumes. Dressed as a pumpkin, Danielle brought many smiles to their ancient faces. Though she was only two weeks of age, the residents were able to recognize the image and likeness of God in her newborn face.
Little did we know that from that point on all of our Halloweens would be different. Only a few years later, again in the fall, Danielle would be diagnosed with autism. We might have recognized her autism the year before, but we were not aware of the signs. That Halloween she would hold her ears and break into tears each time our door bell rang and excited trick-or-treaters stood at our door. The noise and crowds were simply too much for her. We didn’t know that her tearful response to these things was a sign of her autism.
Eventually, she learned to participate and join her brothers and sister for trick or treat in our neighborhood. She learned to tolerate some of the busyness of the holiday. Halloween is not always easy for a person with autism. Danielle who is nonverbal and struggles with social skills, had trouble greeting people and thanking them for the treat. Her brothers and sister were always helping her, guiding her and showing her the ropes when it came to successful trick-or-treating. Even so, there were many times we would see her walking down the driveway already eating the treat!
Over the years she progressed from merely tolerating and participating in trick or treat to having a good time.
At eighteen she is past the age of trick or treating but likes to help greet the younger kids who come to our door and give them candy. She is getting better at it every year. My, how she has come so far!
Wishing you a safe and happy Halloween from all of us!
Copyright 2016 David and Mercedes Rizzo.
All photos copyright 2016 David and Mercedes Rizzo. All rights reserved.