Halloween should be a fun time for kids, but for those with sensory issues due to autism or other conditions, it can be an overwhelming experience with all the lights, sounds and costumes that typically go along with Halloween events.
Belinda Hernandez, of Liberty, founded an organization inspired by her 22-year-old son, Sergio, who lives with non-verbal autism. The organization is called Raising Awesome Awareness and has become a support system for families dealing with children on the autism spectrum or other special needs.
Eight years ago, Raising Awesome Awareness launched its Not So Scary Halloween Trick or Trunk event, which grew this year to include 30-plus booths that handed out candy to more than 100 special-needs children and adults, their parents or caretakers, and siblings. This year’s event was held on Oct. 7 at War Memorial Stadium in Liberty.
“Here in our local area there is hardly anything that is catered to special-need children. We have always ventured out to The Woodlands and Beaumont, but eight years ago, we decided to create an event locally. This event is meant to foster inclusion, love and acceptance for all the special-needs people in the community,” Hernandez said.
Raising Awesome Awareness has also provided an opportunity for the special-needs children and adults to form a network of friends.
“Even though they have autism, these kids and adults still want to have connections to their friends,” Hernandez said.
In addition to collecting candy and prizes, the attendees were invited to walk through an obstacle course, take a hay ride and jump in a bouncy house at the event.
“It was really nice seeing so many local churches, businesses, first responders, community organizations, families and friends host booths. Their participation is appreciated. I can have ideas for this organization all day long, but it takes an amazing community to come out and give our kids so much love and to provide them with a good time,” Hernandez said.