October is the start of fun holiday events and celebrations as we enter the end of the year. Having cerebral palsy doesn't mean that a child or parent with cerebral palsy can't participate in the Halloween celebrations. Modifications, research and planning ahead will make Halloween not only possible, but enjoyable for all family members.
When I was a young girl, Halloween seemed more challenging to me than fun. Finding a costume that stayed on me would be the first task. My involuntary movements from cerebral palsy made getting the costume on more difficult. Then the question would be where would I trick or treat? In the early eighties, accessibility and inclusion weren't factored in Halloween fun like it is today. We never heard of trunk or treat or malls having trick or treating. The sidewalks around my neighborhood weren't the best for my wheelchair to navigate. Plus, my dad had to carry me to neighbor's doors so there wasn't any mystery to who I was. It took the fun away from Halloween.
I decided to give up trick or treating and hand out candy instead. My brother and sister would share their candy with me so I never missed out on candy. However, I wished that I could participate like any other kid. Now times have changed and Halloween can be made much more accessible for everyone.
First, let's talk about costumes! I'm very impressed with the creativity Halloween costumes are for children who use wheelchairs. Instead of singling out the wheelchair, people are incorporating their wheelchairs into the costume. If you do an Internet search on costumes with wheelchairs, you'll find several terrific ideas. Wheelchairs, braces and walkers do not need to be seen as a problem, but as an asset to costumes.
One year, my mom and sister took a big cardboard box that would fit over my wheelchair. They decorated the sides of the box as a jungle scene. I wore a monkey costume so it looked like I was a monkey living in the jungle. I will always remember that year because I felt like I fit in like my friends.
Second, there are many other places that allow trick or treating. These places are accessible and makes an equal area for everyone. Trunk or treating is where people decorate their car trunks and hand out candy. Usually, you can find local trunk or treating at churches, schools and some organizations. Malls also have trick or treating that is open to children. Two reasons that this is a good idea. Malls are accessible and you don't need to worry about the weather. Being out in the cold is not easy for someone with cerebral palsy. Muscles are tighter or become more spastic.
Third, it's more common to see schools offering safe trick or treating open to the public. Some places are doing Accessible Halloween. I'm happy to say that I learned about Accessible Halloween when I played in the national power chair hockey tournament this past summer. A new friend told me that she had created Accessible Halloween in her area and it was a success. I took the idea, with her blessing, to my local YMCA and they agreed to have it. Accessible Halloween is focused on children with disabilities to trick or treat, participate in crafts and games!
Lastly, don't forget baking and crafts are also a big part of having Halloween fun. Several crafts can be modified to people who have cerebral palsy. Even though a child with cerebral palsy can't physically bake, they can read the cooking instructions and you can assist them do certain tasks. Patience, creativity and experimentation can lead to a very fun and memorable Halloween.