Spooky season is fast approaching, with many of us trying to decide what/who we want to dress up like this year. Growing up with cerebral palsy never stopped me from taking part in the festivities. I want to share my experience with Halloween and offer some advice for parents of children with cerebral palsy to help them feel comfortable with trick-or-treating.
My Trick-or-Treating Experiences
Growing up with cerebral palsy made holidays extra fun, especially Halloween, because I was able to be creative with my costumes. When I was 7 and had to be in a body cast for six weeks due to hip dislocation surgery, my mom painted my face and I was a zombie wheelchair racer. Although I wasn’t able to go trick-or-treating that particular year, my mother made it fun.
Trick-or-treating with cerebral palsy was always fun for me. Some people in the neighborhood would feel sorry for me because of my cerebral palsy. Sometimes they would give me extra candy. As a little kid, I used to think this was great because I got extra candy. Now that I’m an adult I hate that concept, because I feel like every child should be treated the same when it comes to celebrating Halloween.
Tips for Trick-or-Treating With Cerebral Palsy
I want to discuss the fun parts of Halloween, but also my least favorite part of Halloween as someone with cerebral palsy. One lesser-known aspect of cerebral palsy is that people with the condition have an exaggerated startle reflex. If something or something jumps out at us, or if we hear sudden, loud sounds, a jumping attack could happen. This would happen to me a lot every Halloween.
My advice to any parent of a child with cerebral palsy is to always be patient when they have these attacks — we can’t help it. It’s an involuntary reaction. Also, try talking to your neighbors about your child’s condition. Ask them not to jump out of the bushes and scare your child, and to turn off Halloween decorations that make sudden movements or sounds before your child comes to the door. This could help make trick-or-treating less stressful and more enjoyable for your child.
The second piece of advice I would give parents of kids with disabilities is that trick-or-treating can be fun. Be creative with your child. Let them use their imagination when it comes to being part of Halloween activities. It really helps a child feel welcome in society and loved by the community. It can help them feel proud of having a disability and being unique.
My third and last piece of advice is to plan your Halloween activities in advance and set a time to go out trick-or-treating. Many people with cerebral palsy have issues with anxiety and chronic pain. Spending a long time outdoors in chilly fall weather can make their pain worse. It is important that you have a set time and plan for trick-or-treating and other Halloween events so your child can be prepared beforehand.
Have a Happy Halloween!