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‘Sensory friendly’ trunk-or-treat for kids with autism makes Halloween inclusive in Colorado Springs

Nationally, one in 59 children are diagnosed with autism by the age of eight. This spectrum disorder can make trick-or-treating scary. That’s why one Colorado Springs community came together Saturday to make sure everyone can enjoy Halloween.

“[It’s] to feel like they’re safe and they’re not being judged,” said event organizer Sharron Starkey, “No one’s gonna care if you have a meltdown. No one’s gonna care if you throw a fit because we love each other and we’re an accepting community.”

Starkey is also the founder of Autism Vision of Colorado. She says volunteers came by the trunk-load and decked out in costume to help kids on the spectrum have a spook-tacular time.

“Everyone working the event is a volunteer,” she said.

“It’s a sensory friendly environment, so we make sure to talk a little quieter,” said Kelsea Magel with Southwest Autism and Behavioral Solutions. She says as autism rates rise, sensory friendly events are critical.

At the event Saturday many of parents told us, “This is a godsend for us.”

Autism Vision of Colorado organized the event and say they want to organize many more so that kids can practice soft skills in social settings while their parents can relax and enjoy.

“[We want to] educate the community on autism and what it’s like and what it’s like to have sensory overload,” said Starkey.

Blue pumpkin buckets are another way parents are helping others understand that their kid may need a little extra patience.

Parents like Michelle and Andrew Cole, who brought their kids to the trunk-or-treat, say this was a perfect way to introduce their 5-year-old son Miles to the joy of Halloween.

“We thought this would be a safe place for him to get some candy and practice trick-or-treating,” she said. “It’s very challenging when you need to interact with everyone else in the world. It’s wonderful to know that there’s so many avenues out there to help you. You just have to figure out what’s right for your kid.”

The event had 35 ‘trunks’ handing out candy and 1,300 registered RSVPs.

Autism Vision of Colorado is planning an “All Abilities Carnival and 5K” November 2nd. Click here for more information.

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