Many kids look forward to Halloween and the opportunity to dress up. Sometimes, children with visual impairments may need help in the imagination department. Our kids may not engage in “pretend play” like their typical peers, and therefore may be unsure about dressing up in a costume. In fact, some may have no desire to wear a costume, or simply no opinion about what their costume may be. Here are some quick tips to help those harder kids enjoy the costume aspect of this uniquely bizarre holiday.
1. Prep for the season. Encourage your child’s particular interests and think about how they could be made into a Halloween costume. For example, if you child has been enjoying Dora the Explorer, start helping their imagination along by pretending to go on adventures just like Dora’s. Encourage her to carry a backpack and look at a “map” just like Dora. Then, as Halloween approaches, you can suggest the perfect costume, and your child can be just like Dora.
2. What do you do when a character interest just isn’t there? Not everybody likes fictional characters, so we need some other options. Don’t be afraid to dress up as real people. If your child loves to listen to Taylor Swift, let them be her. If there isn’t simply anyone your child shows an interest in, look towards an “item” costume. Your child can be an iPad, a favorite toy, or even a box of cereal. The only important factor is that the costume MEANS something to your child, and that they will have fun wearing it.
3. Use medical equipment/ tools to your advantage. Many of us have seen the great wheelchair costumes online. I’m not nearly that creative, but use those wheels! Turn your child into a car, a train, or even a “floating” ghost. If your child uses a cane, I recently saw a picture where it was turned into a witch’s broom. How perfect! I challenge you to think of even more creative ways to incorporate a cane.
4. Make sure it’s comfortable. Children with visual impairments often have sensory concerns that include the feel of materials and the fit of their clothes. Be sure you don’t use a large amount of netting if your child cannot stand its texture. Be sensitive to your child’s unique comfort levels and they’ll enjoy the costume ten times more.
5. Check with the school. Not all schools allow their students to dress up for Halloween. However, if your child’s school allows costumes, don’t let your kiddo miss out! As a bonus, if your child is wearing something currently popular with their classmates, they are likely to gain some serious social attention all day long. In this picture of Eddie and his sister, Eddie didn’t yet appreciate Mickey Mouse…but the other kids sure did (including his sister)!
6. Finally…don’t be afraid to keep it easy. With the lives we all lead, Halloween can simply sneak up on us…especially if our child doesn’t get excited about the big day. If you find yourself nearing the holiday with nothing prepared…keep it simple. Find a hand-me-down costume, or make something out of your own wardrobe. It isn’t important that your child have the best costume at school…simply that they get to dress-up, too.
Best of luck as we creep towards another Halloween. Some of us (myself included) are still brainstorming costume possibilities, and we’d love some fresh ideas like the pumpkin activities shared earlier this month. If your child already has a costume, or you have an idea in mind, please share below! Many parents and their kids could be saved from one more hand-me-down year…and they’ll be grateful you shared.