By Jeff Labine
The Chronicle-Journal
Published: Oct. 31, 2016

Halloween came early for some trick-or-treaters in Thunder Bay.

An estimated 36 children, armed with bags and dressed in a variety of costumes, went door-to-door collecting candy Sunday afternoon. For the past four years, Autism Ontario Thunder Bay and District has hosted an Halloween party for children with autism at the Oliver Road Community Centre. The idea was to give autistic children a chance to experience trick-or-treating in a more comfortable environment.

Those living near the Oliver Road centre are asked ahead of time if they are willing to participate and are provided treats to hand out. This year, 19 homes agreed to participate, the highest the event has ever had.

Gareth Bosch was one of the parents who participated in the Halloween party along with the rest of his family. His 11-year-old daughter, Breea, has been with Autism Ontario for the past five years and has attended the Halloween party since its inception.

Although Breea still goes out on Halloween night, Bosch said at the Autism Ontario party, his daughter — who was dressed as a witch — doesn’t feel like she’s different.

“They are just here to have fun. Overall, it is just an amazing thing to try. I guess you get to be with your child and you realize that there’s nothing wrong with them. They are just like everyone else,” said Bosch.

“The biggest thing is routines. Children who are autistic have certain routines. They wake up, they have to have their breakfast, they have to brush their teeth, they have to go to school and are always worried about the time. Now and again, they go outside the box and do something different but it isn’t too often.”