Why I Hate Halloween

I hate Halloween.  I have never been a fan, and, unlike many other people, having a child has not changed my mind in the least.  Don’t get me wrong, I like scary movies, but I prefer psychological horror films, like Signs and The Sixth Sense, to gore for gore’s sake (though I still find the original Halloween movie to be one of the greatest Halloween-specific flicks of all time).  I hate the Jason and Freddy movies.  I think Scream (et al) and I Know What You Did Last Summer are ridiculously stupid.  I even laugh at The Exorcist now, which used to scare the bejesus out of me.  I don’t know, maybe it’s my sick sense of humor, but Linda Blair telling a priest to “Go F*** your mother” is HILARIOUS to me.  I love Hitchcock and 60s and 70s psychological horrors like Carrie and Rosemary’s Baby, but I don’t need to watch them on Halloween.  I can watch them whenever I want to and be 100% satisfied.  I don’t need an excuse to eat ten pounds of candy.  I am a woman, mother nature provides that opportunity once a month, if you get my drift.  And I see no point in dressing up.  Seriously stupid.

“But it’s for the children.  Don’t you love seeing the joy on your child’s face at Halloween?”  Let me be perfectly clear….my child could care less what day it is, least of all Halloween.  In fact, if the ONLY point of Halloween is to scare everybody, every day is Halloween for my child.  I know there is this myth floating around society that Autistic children have no connection to society whatsoever, and display no emotions at all, but it’s simply not true.  Perhaps they don’t display connections and emotions like all us “normal” people do, but they do have those feelings.  

There is a disconnect in an Autistic person’s brain (as explained above, by the amazingly inspiring Temple Grandin) that can best be explained as trying to wire an old-fashioned phone circuit board, but the wires aren’t always connected or connected to the right socket.

My child has SEVERE social anxiety.  We can rarely leave the house on a whim.  I have to make a step-by-step list of what we’re going to do, where we’re going to go, what we’re going to do when we’re there, and when we’re going to leave.  In fact, I had to make a list last night, just to get her out for trick or treat.

Yes, it seems excessively silly, but have you ever been on backside of an Autistic breakdown?  

 It is 100% irrational….to a neurotypical brain.  But imagine if you couldn’t process information.  What if everything that is unknown to you terrified you?  What if one interaction with a “bad” person altered your opinion of people forever?  What if you were told over and over that the man that looks like the “bad” person isn’t him, but you couldn’t make that connection?  What if the sound of brushes on a snare drum actually sounded like this?

This is the reality that we live in.  Last year, because of a scary Halloween decoration at the grocery store, we couldn’t get her IN a house with decorations.  We worked very hard, even letting her PLAY with decorations, to get her over that fear, and for the most part, we did.  So Halloween wasn’t as daunting this year.  She was even somewhat EXCITED about it.  She decided in July she would dress up like Toodee (of course, the only costume NOT available).  Then we headed out.  As you can see, her first two stops were the familial “check out my costume” stops.  When she went out into the neighborhood, she was doing alright, walking right up to people and saying “TRICK OR TREAT” and, even “THANK YOU!”  And this from a kid that doesn’t eat ANY candy, and could really care less about candy.  But what she does have now is a strong desire to be just like everyone else.  She knows, on some level, that she is different, and she doesn’t necessarily want to be, so she wants to do what everyone else does.  And at Halloween, everyone else is out Trick or Treating.

Now, when I was a kid, if you went out for trick or treat, you looked for the porch light, rang the doorbell, and waited patiently.  These days, people are so lazy, they just leave out buckets with the obligatory “take one” sign.  Occasionally, you get actual people.  So we’re going around the neighborhood, with a mix of people and take ones, when she goes up to this house.  Now, we were trying to hang back just a bit, to let her do things on her own.  It is very important for her to learn life skills and for us to butt out and not do it for her.  As she went up to the house, I saw it

….but it was too late for me to save her.  Right behind the take one bucket sat a “scarecrow” of sorts, only it was more like a dead body.  Needless to say, that was the end of trick or treat 2011.

Now, I realize to some people, the scare is what’s fun.  Hell, I get a kick out of scaring people sometimes.  But I think in this day and age, where SO MANY KIDS have been diagnosed with Autism, things like haunted garages, and even people that go all “Roseanne” on Halloween 

need to keep it more to the inside of the house or even the backyard, and let neighbors know so that if they do have children with irrational social fears (or *GASP* Autism), they can keep their children away from these places.  For neurotypical children, when their parents say “that’s not real,” they can make that connection and, eventually, be calmed down.  But for some children, there IS no connection.  There is no coming back from that.  There is even severe disconnect between words with multiple meanings.  For example, when I said “we stayed out late so you can stay up a little longer than normal,” she began to panic and told me “no we’re not late, we’re not.”  To her, “late” means “HURRY UP” not “oh it’s 8:30, that’s my bedtime because it’s late in the evening.”

I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, and some of you could even think “well just keep your kid at home.”  Yeah, sure…we could do that.  Or you could open your egotistical, arrogant, as-long-as-it’s-not-me mind and think about the direction our society is headed, and be a little compassionate and understanding. “It is estimated that between 1 in 80 and 1 in 240 with an average of 1 in 110 children in the United States have an ASD.” ~The CDC

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