Halloween has always been a favorite of mine. I feel I could name all the costumes I wore through the years as a child. My mom loved Halloween and was creative and handy and would make our costumes every year. We would recycle and reuse and I can promise we did not go to the Halloween store each year and spend $100 each on our costumes. That wasn’t even an option in the ’80s.
My mom never seemed to struggle with the creativity needed and judging by her pre-kids Halloween costumes she wore herself (photo evidence is amazing) this was her opportunity to let those creative juices flow. I never heard her struggle bringing our ideas to life.
She also never let a little thing like my brother’s wheelchair get in the way of his costumes either.
My brother has Cerebral Palsy and the fact he spends over 90% of his time in a wheelchair made no matter to what he wore on Halloween. My parents used imagination and resources they already had to make his Halloween just as special for him as the rest of us. Probably better than ours because it was his night to be like everyone else. If you read (or saw) Wonder you would remember this was Auggies night to shine as well. The one day he looked like everyone else, masked and enjoying the festivities. I imagine the same for my brother.
And boom fast forward and life, as it does, does its crazy thing and I am now a mom and I am now working around a wheelchair. Our oldest, Lily, was born with a rare genetic condition CDKL5 and spent her first Halloween at 8 weeks old hospitalized and by the next year not even close developmentally to walking and sadly, never did so we had to be very creative and in the early years we stepped up to the challenge. Yet I never felt like my mom appeared. I think we can all whisper these sentiments, right? My mom made this look way easier. I really hope my kids say the same. But now we know, we are all struggling on the insides and just making it work on the outside. Hopefully.
As the years went on however and we added more kids to the family I started getting more lazy with costumes. Lily’s younger siblings started asking to go to the Halloween store to get a new costume each year and I took them. While they were choosing I’d walk all around the store thinking of ideas for Lily and nothing ever seemed to work for her. Cheap fabrics will irritate her sensitive skin, she’ll never go along with a mask, hat, even makeup is a little overwhelming for her sensory wise. We would have to just figure something out at home. And there have been some super great wow them years and some less than exciting Katniss all in black with braids years. Lily is now 17 and I struggle with age appropriateness as well as a factor. Would she still want to dress up and trick or treat with siblings? Would she at this age rather stay home and help hand out candy? Lily is non-verbal and is unable to communicate with us traditionally, unlike my brother, so we do our best to help make choices for her with her best interests in mind.
As you can imagine my pleasure when I scrolled across an ad for Target and they are now selling adaptive costumes!
What? What clever genius thought of capitalizing on what so many of us special needs parents have been doing for years? Probably not an actual special needs parent. We are a little too busy with all the specialists, therapists and IEP’s going down to make our multi-millions BUT alas I am still thrilled for the next generation of parents growing up our special crop of kids. This gives the busy and the ones who feel less than creative, the option to actually buy a costume off the rack for their kid! Costumes that are tag less, soft, some even have easy access to bellies for tube feedings, not to mention the wheel covers! And we all know this is just the beginning. The world is finally seeing there is a need out there for so many kids that don’t fit the mold. I am excited to see stores like Target and other brands discovering this and meeting the unique needs out here.
I look forward to the future of adaptive clothing, costumes and so much more! Children and adults with special needs are deserving of some things to be as easy of buying off the rack, a simple thing so many take for granted. Happy Halloween! Can’t wait to see all the awesome, unique, funny and fun costumes this year!