Friday, October 27, 2006

Disability and Halloween

So a few bloggers have already touched on this topic: Liz Spikol caught an advisory from NAMI pointing out that "insane asylum"-themed haunted house attractions perpetuate stigma--would the same local organizations put on a "haunted slave quarters" or "haunted concentration camp" for Halloween? Seems unlikely. Kestrell (who's writing her thesis on disability in science fiction) is observing "The 13 Days of Halloween" with a terrific (in both senses, I guess) series of posts on Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, Queer Houses, A Walk in the Dark, Ghosts, Goblins, and Long-legged Beasties in Poetry, Ballads and Bones, and Tales for November (with more to come, of course--we're only half-way through the 13 days as I type this). And Wheelie Catholic is looking for costume ideas for her nephew, who will use a wheelchair to trick-or-treat this year.

There are a lot of websites with costume ideas for kids who use wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, vents, etc. The Bridge School's site is excellent, because it includes photos and instructions for a variety of costumes, some more complicated than others. (It seems that you should keep a few refrigerator boxes handy for such occasions.) Exceptional Parent Magazine has an annual costume feature, too. Another tip is to bring along a longish dowel (or incorporate it into the costume theme, as a magic wand, for example)--for pushing doorbells that are up a few steps. If sensory integration issues are in the picture, parent Terri Mauro has suggestions for costumes built around hooded sweatshirts, so they're not too fussy or annoying.

For adults and teens, costuming can be a bit more transgressive... in this Dean Kramer essay, he describes his "Hell on Wheels" costume--sadly, no photos, but the description is pretty vivid. I've also seen Frida Kahlo and Professor X mentioned as good low-fuss options, too (bonus if you really shave your head for the latter; original at left). Not feeling crafty? There are some online merchants that sell accessible costumes: but it looks like Holly Woods will need some serious lead time, so start planning now if you've got an idea for 2007.

Me and mine? Well, one year I dressed my little ones (ages 6 and 1 at the time) as disability rights lawyers--suits, stockings, tie, wingtips--and personalized business cards to hand out. It was easy, and comfortable, and economical given that they could wear the clothes again. (I suspect one of those business cards landed in a school file someplace.... )

Have fun!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great links and info on costumes! .

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