|Sweet Treats 2017, Lancaster Wisconsin|
Mackie is seven and loves Halloween. Mackie is our little guy who is medically complex and is adopted from the foster care system in our state. Halloween is his favorite holiday of the year just like his big brother Ian. Last year we made the trek to Universal Studios for the Halloween Horror Nights for his big brother. When Mackie who has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Autism and has neurological damage that affects his motor planning systems was 4, during the day he was silent, but "fixated" on "Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin". Over and over and over again he watched the movie on the TV, on his iPad sitting beside his Snoopy Build A Bear months before Halloween arrived. He could get his point across even without his speech and would not give up until we put on his favorite movie.
One night in the middle of the night we heard him talking at his usual 3:00 am wake time! What Mackie was talking? Listening closely I could not hear what he was saying. I knew he was saying words, but ever so quietly. The next night I came up with a brainstorm and placed a tape recorder in his crib and replaying the tape to my shock discovered that he was "reciting" the entire script from Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin. The speech that left at 21 months was there and he was not just capable of simple words part of the day, but he could speak in complex sentences. I am not too sure, but I don't think I could memorize the entire script for an entire movie, how about you? Mac could.
Like every kid, we would go "Trick or Treating" Mackie would silently sit in his wheelchair and be like every other kid. A trip to the fire station for our yearly picture which would arrive on this Mom's email the day after. The yearly pictures are a highlight of his scrapbook documenting his growth and looking back just how far he has come.
The Great Pumpkin was his 4 year old obsession and when were put him to bed after visiting a few homes "Trick or Treating" he was inconsolable. Mackie is quiet, he is a happy little guy. Something was terribly off. Rocking and putting on his favorite movie, snuggling his blanket, tears filling his eyes, he spoke up. "I need to wait for the Great Pumpkin". A sentence! He was sobbing.
Thank heavens for Motrin and his sleeping meds, he finally dozed off. I ran on an mission to our 24 hour Walmart and came up with a plan to have the Great Pumpkin arrive and trade his bucket of candy he would not eat leave.
|Dear Great Pumpkin|
The Great Pumpkin came and Mackie's tradition was started and it solved our Halloween dilemma. Mackie has challenges with oral motor control, he has food allergies and intolerances that make eating candy something he cannot do. We have to look to see the ingredients are "Mackie Approved". Dye free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, peanut-free. The Great Pumpkin comes every year and his candy bucket is exchanged for a new wished for toy.
We are veteran parents of dealing with children with food challenges. My children grew up in the l980s and l990s with celiac disease at the time when no one knew about this unheard of disorder. The kids looked forward to the GREAT CANDY Swap they had with their friends. I had to be the monitor as the older ones would take advantage of the smaller kids to make sure it was fair. But Dad always ended up with a bucket of Babe Ruth, Kit Kats and Butterfinger candy bars as no one wanted them. But the GREAT CANDY SWAP helped my children trade off the offending candy to their friends and they got the ones they could safely eat. I was a veteran of reading the fine print on the tiny pieces of candy and had no internet to help me!
|Teal Pumpkin Project|
I am so very thankful for food labeling laws and awareness. Facebook has become a lifeline for Parents with Special Needs. I share our day to day adventures with Mackie on my Facebook wall and last year I shared about taking him "Trick or Treating" downtown on the courthouse square. He had a blast, he got his candy and we put it up. But he could not have anything in his bucket. But the Great Pumpkin would solve that on Halloween night. But he participated. I thought nothing of it.
|Cruisin Kids: Lancaster, Wisconsin|
I received a message from the shop owner who felt bad for Mackie. Karri the owner of "Cruisin Kids" has a niece who has challenges. She knows about inclusion. September 21 I received a Facebook message with a flyer about the 2017 Sweets and Treats event and the businesses will have allergy friendly alternatives. I stopped by to thank Karri asked what I could do to help. She said we needed to ask for the treats and she wished we had something to identify the kids who could not have treats.
|Thank you Target Dubuque, Iowa for the Buckets|
I walked into Target and found in the Dollar spot 6 Teal Pumpkin trick or treat buckets. A helpful Dubuque Team member helped search the system for when the next buckets will arrive and I stopped by to pick up all the Teal in the box that was just off the truck. A trip to Target in Madison after a medical appointment found another 9. 25 Teal buckets and a bag of non-food treats would be delivered to Cruisin Kids before the big day.
|There are plenty of toys for treats at Target|
Have you seen the Teal Trick or Treat Pumpkins while shopping for candy in the Halloween aisles. Learn about the Teal Pumpkin Project
This year at Halloween Mackie would be included. He could have Treats and this year he can use his new speech device to say "Trick or Treat", "Happy Halloween", "Thank you for the treats", ask the other kids "What is your costume", and say "I am Snoopy." His school speech therapist help us get his talking device and programmed in his Halloween messages.
|Thank you Pottery Barn Kids, Charlotte, North Carolina|
A phone call suggested by his big brother Ian to the Pottery Barn Kids Store in Charlotte, North Carolina found the sold out on line Snoopy Costume which someone had just returned and it was the only one left in the system. A trip to Build A Bear after a doctors appointment found his penguin side kick Furry's Pumpkin costume. Snoopy costume, check. Pumpkin costume, check. Teal bucket, check. Every morning he asked if it was Saturday. Finally the long awaited day arrived.
|Mackie, Furry and Doctor Dad|
|Trick or Treat|
As we walked the streets we would have people stopping and saying "Hello Mac". Kids from his school would make the point and stop to "talk" with him. I wish I had releases to show the videos of him talking with his friends! Adults who work in the school or the local medical system who work with him or his Doctor Dad. Mackie is his own kind of celebrity and it warms my heart that he is not ignored like many kids in a wheelchair often are. But he is included, he is popular and included. His side kick Furry was also very popular dressed as the Great Pumpkin. But that is another story for another day...
|"Thank you for the Treats" with help from his Novachat10|
Karri knew about disability due to her nieces challenges and found a barrier for Mackie and came up with a solution. Writing this brings tears to this Special Needs Mom's eyes. She provided non-candy treats for every store or business and they were ready for Mackie! The world is full of challenges and this Halloween she helped me Miracle happen for Mackie. All 38 businesses in the tiny town of Lancaster went Teal and offered alternatives to food treats this Halloween.
Thank you from a very grateful Mom and from a very exhausted Mackie!
The Great Pumpkin will have to wait for the trade in bucket until Halloween night. But Mackie is fine with that. The Pumpkin Patch is ready and waiting for that Halloween night. And by the way, according to Mackie, there is a Great Pumpkin. The reason why Sally and Linus didn't get any presents, is that they didn't go to bed. He is magic and cannot be seen just like Santa!
Happy Halloween and Mackie and his best friend Furry is ready for the Great Pumpkin and enjoying his treats in the meantime! If you happen to be in our area on Halloween night stop by and meet Mackie and we are participating in the Teal Pumpkin project and have all sorts of allergy friendly treats. Our house is marked on the Teal Pumpkin Map at 1246 Park Road in Lancaster, Wisconsin.
Stop by for Treats for Everyone and see Mackie's Pumpkin Patch!
There is still time to stop by Target, Walmart, The Dollar Tree or your local store to pick up a bag of tiny toys, stickers, bubbles, pencils, or Halloween trinkets and paint a pumpkin TEAL and help a child who has an allergy or a special need be included this Halloween. The Teal Pumpkin Project.
|Mackie in his Pumpkin Patch|
Have a very safe and miraculous Halloween!
Mackie and the Yurceks