Ascendigo gears up for second annual autism-friendly trunk or treat | PostIndependent.com
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Ascendigo gears up for second annual autism-friendly trunk or treat

Ascendigo's inaugural trunk or treat event in 2020.
Ascendigo Autism Services/Courtesy photo
If You Go…

What: Ascendigo autism-friendly trunk or treat

When: Friday, Oct. 29, 4-6 p.m.

Where: Carbondale Fire Station, 300 Meadowood Drive

Cost: Free

More information: Ascendigo Development and Marketing Assistant Grace Sinclair, gsinclair@ascendigo.org

Halloween can be an overwhelming time for children on the autism spectrum.

Strobing lights and startling noises only compound the concept of having your child wander up to a stranger’s door to ask for candy.

For Ascendigo Autism Services board member Kate Weitz, it prevented her son, Freddie, from participating in traditional Halloween events like trick-or-treating. He would go to controlled parties, but Freddie did not get to partake in the community aspect of the holiday.



“You want your kid to have experiences that every other kid gets but there are safety issues and understanding issues, things like that,” Kate Weitz said. “There’s also a lot of kids on the spectrum who have sensory sensitivities, so they can get either overwhelmed or underwhelmed with new environments. There’s a lot within it that can be really difficult.”

So, last year Weitz approached Ascendigo with an idea: what if the organization held its own autism-friendly event? They could have families and autism-trained volunteers organizing and controlling the environment. They could reduce the chances of a meltdown and be prepared in case one happened.



Ascendigo brought in Carbondale Police and Carbondale Fire, who decorated their vehicles and showed them to the trick-or-treaters. To accommodate COVID-19 protocols, candy was delivered through a chute.

Freddie, who had a green cast due to a broken arm, went as Frankenstein’s monster, Kate went as Frankenstein’s bride and her husband went as a mad scientist. They did small science experiments in their trunk.

“It was the first time and we weren’t sure how it was going to go but we had a pretty decent turnout,” Ascendigo Chief Development Officer Julie Kaufman said. “We decided to do it again and make it an annual thing because families asked us to.”

The Weitz family at Ascendigo’s inaugural trunk or treat event in 2020.
Courtesy Kate Weitz

Kaufman added that this year might even be bigger and she hopes the event continues to grow. On top of the police and fire departments, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority is decorating a bus for the event, which in its first year already became a natural way for public service groups to interact with and learn about working with people with sensory disabilities.

“It’s a huge relationship that we build,” Carbondale Police Community Relations Officer Paul Lazo said. “We are super excited to be participating alongside Ascendigo and just being present and having a community-oriented event.”

The event is scheduled for 4-6:30 p.m. (or until sundown) at the Carbondale Fire Station, 300 Meadowood Drive.

Tweaks from last year include prizes that aren’t just candy to allow for participation for people with dietary restrictions.

All are welcome to the free event. It will be COVID-19 compliant and guests are asked to remember to wear masks.

For more information, contact Ascendigo Development and Marketing Assistant Grace Sinclair at gsinclair@ascendigo.org.


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