Celebrating Halloween for Children with Cerebral Palsy
Halloween is a time-honored childhood tradition: dressing up in a costume, trick-or-treating with friends, and eating candy.
Some children with cerebral palsy may feel left out of the festivities.
40-50% of those affected with cerebral palsy cannot walk on their own, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These children may need adaptive equipment, such as a wheelchair, to move around.
Others may have problems eating, speaking, or controlling their movements.
Living with cerebral palsy may make life more challenging, but it shouldn’t stop your child from celebrating Halloween.
With the help of their parents — and a little creativity — children with cerebral palsy can dress up in specialized Halloween costumes and celebrate with everyone.
Cerebral Palsy Halloween Costume Ideas
A cerebral palsy Halloween costume can be anything that doesn’t affect a child’s mobility or comfort.
For example, tight-fitting costumes can make your child uncomfortable, and a superhero costume with a cape may make it easier for your child to trip.
The possibilities for cerebral palsy Halloween costumes are almost limitless — especially with a homemade costume.
Making a Costume for Children with Cerebral Palsy
Since cerebral palsy in children varies with each case, a homemade costume may be more helpful, as it can be made to suit a child’s specific needs and symptoms.
Parents should first ask their children what they want to be for Halloween (if their child is verbal) and create a costume from there. School programs or cerebral palsy organizations may also make costumes for children in some cases.
See how these cerebral palsy Halloween costumes pushed the boundaries:
- Art and robotics students at Penn High School in Indiana designed a costume of the Hulk, a popular superhero, for a 4-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. The students designed a “Jeep” to fit around his wheelchair, with a mechanized version of the Hulk coming out of the back.
- One family has made it a point to outdo themselves every year with their son’s costumes. Though confined to a wheelchair due to his cerebral palsy, he has dressed up as the Blue Man Group, the Lincoln Memorial, and Beetlejuice.
- In 2019, United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cleveland made specially-designed costumes for wheelchair-bound kids. The costumes included cars, fire trucks, and even a bowl of macaroni and cheese.
Costumes should fit around the child’s adaptive equipment (such as wheelchairs or crutches) so they can still move while in costume.
Buying a Costume for Children with Cerebral Palsy
For those who lack creative gumption, have no fear. Some costume companies now make Halloween costumes for kids with disabilities. These costumes can be found at major retailers across the country, such as Target and Spirit Halloween.
Halloween costumes for children with cerebral palsy include:
- Fighter jet
- Ice cream truck
- Pirate in a ship
- Princess in a carriage
These costumes promote ease of use and comfort. For example, the shark and unicorn costumes feature removable parts (such as fins) and come without scratchy tags. Vehicle costumes fit over a child’s wheelchair, allowing them to still get around.
Halloween Tips for Children with Cerebral Palsy
Given the innovation of retail stores and the creativity of families, children with cerebral palsy can wear costumes and participate in Halloween just like everyone else.
Here are some tips on supporting children with cerebral palsy this Halloween:
- Supervise them, and make sure the streets they walk or ride on are well-lit and free of things they might trip on.
- Consult your child’s nutritional needs and guidelines (if any) before giving them candy. Cerebral palsy can affect a child’s nutrition and eating abilities.
- If your child can’t trick-or-treat, see if they can participate in a costume contest. These contests allow kids to get into the Halloween spirit without the hassle of going from door-to-door for candy.
By keeping these tips in mind, parents can help their children scare up some fun this Halloween, regardless of their condition.
Benefits of Cerebral Palsy Halloween Costumes
For the little boy in the Hulk costume, Halloween became a day like no other. When the students of Penn High School pulled down the curtain and revealed the costume, his face lit up with excitement.
Costumes like these allow children with cerebral palsy to feel included when they might not otherwise.
“Somebody seeing him in something like this — a big costume and something that’s really noticeable — they’re gonna want to say something to him,” the boy’s mother said in an interview with CBS News.
At the end of the day, children with cerebral palsy shouldn’t be excluded because of their differences. By getting the family or community involved in making the costume, Halloween can turn into a celebration of those with the condition.