Adaptive Halloween Costumes for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Halloween is a time of year for candy, trick-or-treating, and of course, everyone’s favorite, dressing up as iconic Hollywood, video game, and pop culture characters. 

At first thought, donning a costume in a wheelchair may seem difficult and obtrusive. But in reality, a wheelchair or power wheelchair is a blank slate for your creativity to shine. Turn it into the Black Pearl, a snowspeeder, or a car. The options are almost endless. 

We talked to some families about how they’ve turned their wheelchairs into the coolest costumes on the block. They shared tips, tricks, and inspiration for making this Halloween the best ever. 

Jessica Aviles, who turned her son Gabe into a hibachi chef one Halloween, says design and function must go hand in hand. Making the foil-covered tray (“grill”) removable was important for her younger son, who still wants to get up and walk around every now and then.  

Ryan Miller has gone viral designing costumes for his son Jeremy, who has spina bifida. He’s gone as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future Delorean, Master Chief driving a Warthog from the hit video game Halo, the Ghostbusters hearse, and Kylo Ren in his First Order shuttle. His suggestion is to start with a base of PVC piping, add lights, and use a smaller model for reference. 

“Some see wheelchairs as a limitation, but in reality, they are freedom,” Miller said. “And I wanted to make being in a wheelchair a cool advantage rather than a disadvantage. When we would go trick or treating, we were loud and bright enough and drew enough attention that the people would come out to us.” 

If you aren’t as DIY, plenty of pre-made costumes are now available online — check out these ideas from Halloween, Disney, Good Housekeeping, and Rolling Buddies. And for those of you who are more DIY-minded, Pintrest can be a goldmine for adaptive costume ideas. 

Whatever your level of creativity and craftsmanship, it’s possible to turn a wheelchair into a prop and costume idea that will put a smile on the faces of all trick-or-treaters.  

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