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'Be a little more patient' | Why a Grand Rapids mother is using a blue bucket this Halloween

Clinician Katherine Jester says the blue bucket can allow people with autism spectrum disorder to feel more confident while trick or treating.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Six-year-old Kingston Thomas will be swinging a blue bucket when he goes trick-or-treating this Halloween. 

"I think it's the best," said Kingston's mom, Dashondra Thomas. "It just lets other people know to be a little more patient."

Thomas bought several blue buckets after seeing a Facebook post circulating about the buckets being used to spread autism awareness. She's learned to use any available resources to both help her son feel more understood and to help others understand her son. 

"I think so many people have standards and want to be seen in a different light because of maybe how they are personally feeling, but we have to step our feelings to the side and just think about our babies," Thomas said. 

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One of the resources she utilizes is the Merakey Autism Center in Grand Rapids. Kingston used to spend 35 hours a week at Merakey, but within a year, he experienced so much growth that he was able to enroll in school full time. 

"Leaps and bounds," Thomas said. "He went from saying three words to saying about 12 to 15 now." 

Thomas said getting help was the best decision she ever made and it's why she continues to seek help in all forms—like a blue bucket. 

Merakey ABA Clinician Katherine Jester said anything that helps their students and parents feel more confident in public settings is great.

"We want to get people out in the community and we want them to participate in everything they possibly can," Jester said. "They have so many really cool strengths, and the ability for our kids to feel comfortable out in the community is an opportunity for those strengths to shine."

Jester also encouraged those passing out candy to be mindful.

"If somebody doesn't say 'trick-or-treat' or somebody doesn't say 'thank you', we want to encourage people to have a lot of empathy," Jester said. "It's not that they are not polite, it might be that they just don't have that skill yet and they are still working towards it."

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Emma Nicolas is a multimedia journalist. Have a news tip or question for Emma? Get in touch by email, Facebook or Twitter.

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