Five Tips for Enjoying an Accessible Halloween

Boy in Wheelchair decorated as a Fire Truck for Halloween

With just over a week until Halloween, it’s high time for Enabling Devices’ annual accessible Halloween post. Kudos if you’ve got this under control, but life — especially when you have a child with special needs — can be overwhelming, and sometimes we just can’t avoid waiting until the eleventh hour. If you’re scrambling to make holiday preparations for a child who uses a wheelchair, here are some ideas to make this Halloween a smashing success.

Safety First
A safe Halloween is a happy one, so take precautions when planning your child’s accessible costume. Some hints from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation include: wearing costumes that are bright and reflective; making sure that costumes aren’t long enough to get stuck in the chair’s wheels; avoiding masks that block eye-sight and using non-toxic makeup to prevent allergic reactions.

Last minute planning
Design a trick-or-treating route that is wheelchair accessible and meets all of your child’s needs. For example, make sure the route includes sidewalks with curb-cuts, homes without stairs and is not overly long. If your child has special dietary needs, consider providing neighbors with treats that comply with his nutritional guidelines.

Incorporate the wheelchair
Nonprofits such as Magic Wheelchair and Walkin’ and Rollin’ Costumes create accessible costumes for wheelchair users. Many of these costumes incorporate the children’s wheelchairs into their costumes. For example: the wheelchair can be fashioned into a princess’ coach, an ice cream truck, a spaceship or a pirate ship. Though it’s too late to take advantage of the free services these organizations provide, they’re a great source of ideas and suggestions.

Take sensory issues into account
Some costumes may be physically uncomfortable or difficult for children with mobility challenges to put on or take off. Nowadays though, it’s relatively easy to find accessible clothing designed for wheelchair users. When designing a homemade costume, start with clothing that’s comfortable and accessible.

Consider alternatives
Trick-or-treating isn’t the only way to celebrate Halloween. Research other options such as neighborhood parties, costume contests or parades. Throwing a Halloween party in your home is another excellent idea. Your child may prefer the comforts and accessibility of her own space but will still be able to enjoy showing off her costume, socializing with friends, playing holiday-themed games, hearing spooky stories and indulging in holiday treats. Remember: It’s all about enjoying the festivities, whatever they may be.