The disabled-friendly approach to Halloween
- 31 October 2013
As younger children catch the trick or treat bug, Halloween fancy dress has moved away from horror and taken a turn for the creative and clever. This has given rise to a new wave of innovative costumes for disabled children and adults.
In 2011, Twitter came alive with photos of a little boy called Atti dressed as Doctor Who in his wheelchair, which was cleverly made to look like a Tardis.
As well as witches and ghosts, nowadays lots of children are following suit and dressing as their favourite characters from TV and books. With a paucity of disabled princesses and superheroes, kids who use wheelchairs and their parents have to think outside the box... and that box happens to be cardboard, an excellent material for creating a sitting-down costume.
We've seen chairs adapted to look like other wheeled favourites like a digger, an ice cream van and Thomas the Tank Engine depicted widely on the web on blogs, disability sites and photo sharing sites like Pinterest.
Irish dad Paddy Brown found fame this week when a photo of his efforts to turn son Oisin's wheelchair into a bat-mobile went viral. He made the costume so that Oisin would feel included at his school fancy dress party.
For girls on wheels a good alternative to the floaty fairy princess seems to be a mermaid outfit. Helpfully there is a website that gives instructions on how you can achieve this look - adopted by Lady GaGa in 2011. In short, simply cover the entire wheelchair with material to hide your legs and make a sparkly fish tail for the back. It's a costume that upright walking people could never achieve.
Disabled adults have been getting in on the act too. Former US Paralympic skier, now motivational speaker Josh Sundquist, is dressing as a flamingo this year. By perching upside down with crutches taking his body weight, his only leg becomes the bird's neck and bill.
Sundquist is known for his clever Halloween costumes that incorporate his limb difference. According to a YouTube video where he reveals this year's look, in 2010 he dressed up as a half-eaten gingerbread man - something an amputee is more readily able to achieve.
The move away from stereotypical disabled oddities or baddies like Edward Scissorhands and Captain Hook who had missing or altered body parts, and Scarface with his facial disfigurement, is no doubt welcome. And on Halloween night, these characters reportedly can confuse and upset children with autism or learning difficulties.
But, we hear you cry, you are discriminating against my disabled dog, he needs a costume too. Never fear, Fido shall go to the fancy dress apple bobbing ball. See below - for a wheelchair-using dachshund dressed as a hotdog.