Cerebral palsy does not have to limit your child’s life — Halloween included. Last year, a group of high school students in Indiana built a Hulk costume for a 4-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. From buying a pre-made costume to making one for your child, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween this year.
Halloween and Children With Cerebral Palsy
Halloween is a time-honored childhood tradition: dressing up in a costume, trick-or-treating with friends, and eating candy. However, 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 children 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 join the festivities.
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.
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 for a 4-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. The students created a “Jeep” to fit around his wheelchair, with a mechanical 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
- Rocket ship
In 2020, Disney also began selling adaptive Halloween costumes and wheelchair covers featuring characters like Cinderella, Buzz Lightyear, and the Incredibles.
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 in 2020
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.
In 2020, Halloween is going to look different due to the coronavirus pandemic as trick-or-treating may increase the risk of spreading the disease.
Here are some ways to safely celebrate Halloween this year:
- If you or your child is at risk of coronavirus complications, do not go trick-or-treating.
- Consider doing a Halloween scavenger hunt in the safety of your own home or watching a family-friendly movie.
- 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.
By keeping these tips in mind, parents can help children with cerebral palsy safely scare up some fun this Halloween.
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 in 2019.
At the end of the day, children with cerebral palsy shouldn’t be excluded because of their differences. With adaptive costumes, Halloween can turn into a celebration of those with the condition.