How My Son With Autism Became the Hit of the Trick-or-Treating Scene


Some say the origin of “All Hallows’ Eve” (or Halloween, as we refer to it today) goes back to an ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Celtic tribes believed that the spirits of the dead would come back to earth on October 31. In an attempt to scare the spirits away, the Celtic people dressed up in costumes.

Today, Halloween is more of an opportunity to become someone else. While the “fear factor” is still popular, so is the desire to dress up as your favorite movie character, sports hero, cartoon character or villain. One thing’s for sure — Halloween is a day to be different and sometimes express your love of your most favorite thing or person.

So what’s a mom to do when her son comes to her and announces he wants to be a ceiling fan for Halloween? 

My son, Thomas, has always loved ceiling fans. He’s been fascinated with them since he was a toddler. As he became older, it wasn’t just the spinning he enjoyed; he researched everything there is to know about them. By the time he was 6 or 7, he knew all the different brands and colors. He was a huge fan of the ceiling fan collectors on YouTube who share their mutual love of the hobby. He would even make his own videos about the ceiling fans in our house and the houses of our patient and understanding friends and neighbors. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked friends if they would mind Thomas taking a peek at their ceiling fans when we visited.

So when Thomas told me he wanted to be a ceiling fan for Halloween one year, I had to make it happen for him. My only obstacle was being the least crafty person I know. And there are no cheat sheet Google images or Pinterest pages dedicated to ceiling fan costumes I could copy from in order to create my design!    

So I did my best, and this is what we came up with!

We were the hit of trick-or-treating that year. Everyone stopped Thomas to ask him what he was, if they couldn’t already guess, and he proudly talked to each and every person about what kind of ceiling fan he was. It opened up a conversation for him with everyone. He was excited to talk to all our friends, neighbors and even strangers about his all-time favorite topic. And for me? I was just happy I could make it happen for him.

Halloween is a day to be different from our everyday selves, but what starts as an attempt to be different can sometimes make us all look the same. That Halloween we saw dozens of Batmans, Dorothys, SpongeBobs, pirates, football players and ghosts.

But this I know for sure. 

In our neighborhood that year, there was only one ceiling fan.

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