Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Ah Halloween....a time of trick-or-treating, parties, fun!  Unless you have a child on the spectrum that is.  Not to be a killjoy but Halloween marks the beginning of the holiday season, which can add additional stress to the already stressful life of those with special needs.

When Tyler was younger we INSISTED that he go trick-or-treating like every other kid.  After all, we wanted him to have every typical experience that every other child was able to have.  So....we dressed him up (got kicked in the process)....watched him absolutely hate whatever it was he was wearing....dragged him out the door (still kicking)....gave him a pumpkin bucket (for him to hit us with)...walk to a neighbors door (which he kicked)....have him hand them the pumpkin and walk away (still swinging).  We repeated this "fun" about 3 more times before we said we had all had enough for one evening.  We tried this for a few years before we got the hint that maybe this wasn't his idea of a good time.  

I don't mind that we TRIED, after all you should always TRY, but perhaps we should have adjusted sooner to something more in his comfort range.

Another interesting topic that comes up at Halloween is whether a costume is "offensive" or not.  Specifically it was reported that Shawn White (snowboarder) dressed as "Simple Jack" from the movie Tropic Thunder.  To quickly explain, Ben Stiller plays a fading actor who once took a role as "Simple Jack", much along the lines of Forrest Gump or I Am Sam.  He plays a mentally disabled young man.  The movie bombs and he is ostracized for how bad it turned out.  Ben Stiller's character is a parody of a struggling actor trying to land that one memorable performance.  In fact, Simple Jack is a parody character being played by a parody actor.  I read an article and it explained that the Special Olympics made a statement that they were disappointed and felt that this characterization was harmful.  I think that's fair.  Shawn apologized and said he meant no harm to anyone in the special needs community.  I believe that too.  I don't think this is the sort of thing we should vilify him for quite honestly.

So where is the line between parody and mockery?  That is not something I can answer.  I know that personally I consider intent in someone's words or actions.  Shawn, I can only assume, was trying to be clever with a funny movie character parody.  The problem with that is, if you never saw the movie, he looks like he is playing a mentally retarded person for Halloween...which isn't funny at all.  

As special needs parents we are going to be more sensitive to things for sure.  My advice is to consider the overall character and intent of a person's actions before passing judgement.  Mistakes happen even to well-meaning people.

Enjoy a safe and happy Halloween!    Tom 

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