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Images with kids in adaptive wheelchair costumes including Batman, Cinderella, DeeJay, Bulldozer

Adaptive Wheelchair Costumes

October 15, 2021 9 min read

Have you seen or heard of wheelchair costumes where a child’s wheelchair (or another mobility device) is turned into part of the costume? Well, it’s October 15th, and many kids have probably already planned out their Halloween costumes. But what about kids who use wheelchairs? Do they feel like they can’t join in the festivities because they are in a wheelchair?   Well, I believe that with a little cardboard, paint, tape, and creativity they can turn their wheelchair into part of their costume which will have all the neighborhood kids wishing they had wheels on Halloween!!

For example. Being Batman is cool, but what about Batman in his Batmobile? Getting around in a princess carriage or Hello Kitty car is pretty awesome! Listen to this podcast episode to hear about how to find more adaptive wheelchair costume ideas!

So please search wheelchair costumes or check out my wheelchair costume Pinterest page, which has a ton of photos and links to even more ideas… including Princess Anna and Olaf in her sleigh, Wonder Woman in an invisible jet airplane, a kid in a shark tank being attacked by a shark, and more!!!! Copy the link into your classroom newsletter to get the word out to families of students who use wheelchairs.

And don’t stop with ideas for wheelchairs… the same idea goes for kids using walkers, braces, crutches, AAC devices, hearing aids, etc.

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Show Notes for Episode #29

Links and Resources

  • Lisa’ Pinterest page on Wheelchair costumes, which has a ton of photos and links to even more ideas! Copy the link into your classroom newsletter to get the word out to families of students who use wheelchairs.
  • I’ve seen commercial adaptive wheelchair costumes/decor at:
  • Party City, Disney
  • See photos of creative homemade wheelchair costumes with descriptions at Costume Works website, including the spin beats costume described. (This is the correct link!)

About the Host: Lisa Goodell

Lisa Goodell, M.A., launched the “Help for Special Educators” Podcast on April 1, 2019. She has taught for 26 years, including third grade, resource/inclusion (RSP), and mild/moderate self-contained (SDC). Currently, she is an itinerant orthopedic impairment (OI) specialist/teacher for students birth to 21 years old in all general ed and special ed settings.

Lisa has a master’s degree in special education and six special ed and general ed teaching credentials (she is now working on another one: Assistive Technology (AT) certificate). She has been honored as “Teacher of the Year” at both the elementary and secondary levels. She lives in rural Central California with her family and a bunch of cats. Connect with Lisa here.

Lisa is grateful for the thousands of listeners in over 65 countries around the world.

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Check out other podcast episodes!

Transcript*

*Note: An artificial intelligence (AI) transcription service converted the audio file of this podcast episode into the written words below. The file is mostly accurate, however, be aware that spoken words and conversations are not the same as a conversation in a novel. This means that there will be some inaccuracies or accidental errors (i.e. missing punctuation and words, misspellings, etc.). Thank you for understanding.

Images with kids in adaptive wheelchair costumes including Batman, Cinderella, DeeJay, Bulldozer

Lisa (00:00):

Episode 29: Wheelchair Costumes. It’s halfway through October and many kids have probably already planned out their Halloween costumes. But what about kids who use wheelchairs? Do they feel like they can’t join in the festivities? Because even if they have a costume, they will still have to be in their old wheelchair. Well, I believe that with a little cardboard paint tape and creativity, families can turn a child’s wheelchair into part of their costume, which will have all the neighborhoods wishing they had wheels on Halloween. Princess, Anna from frozen has been super popular in recent years, but have you ever seen her in her sleigh with Olaf on Halloween night? Being Batman is super cool. But what about Batman driving his Batmobile down this street?

Lisa (01:00):

Do you ever find yourself barely able to hold your head above water waves of IEP data collection assessments, parent conferences, not to mention lesson plans and seasonal activities are all crashing around you? You need help, but not just from anybody. Grab the lifeline that is the “Help for Special Educators” podcast. We will equip you with creative solutions and teacher-tested strategies so you can navigate the rewarding, but difficult job as a special ed teacher. This is Lisa Goodell, your host.

Lisa (01:41):

Halloween is coming. So today we’re going to talk about Halloween costumes for kids that use wheelchairs. There are plenty of times during the year that kids with mobility issues feel left out. However, they can have an advantage when it comes to Halloween, especially if their wheelchairs become a part of their costume. The same goes for kids that use walkers canes, hearing aids, AAC devices, and the list goes on. Think of ways to incorporate their devices into the actual costume. For example, a wheelchair could be turned into a pirate ship, a dragon, a spaceship, or Cinderella’s carriage. I’ve had a Pinterest board for about four or five years now where I’ve collected photos and ideas. So if you want to check it out, go to pinterest.com/lisaGoodell/wheelchaircostumes. I will have a link in the show notes for that…And also all the other resources and websites I’m going to talk about each year.

Lisa (02:47):

The word gets out more and more. And so you should be seen more of these examples on the internet or in news stories everywhere. So let’s get the word out to our families. Let’s think of some other ideas. Let’s say a student has crutches. Those could be turned into the front legs of a giraffe. Or what about those star wars at ATS? Those humongous long-legged creature things. Now put on your thinking cap and come up with some more ideas or expand and consider how to incorporate hearing aids, glasses or canes. Let’s do our part teachers when your students are talking about what they want to dress up like during school, be sure to inspire any student in your class with mobility equipment, to think about how they can incorporate their equipment into the costume as well, whether it’s wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, or anything. And did you know that even costume makers have taken notice just in the last year or two, you can get commercial wheelchair costumes?

Lisa (03:55):

However, there are so many different kinds of wheelchairs being made depending on the student’s needs. It might be hard to get a commercial one to exactly fit a student-specific chair perfectly. So be sure to look in, compare all the measurements before buying. There are also a lot of non-profits or university engineering students that will make personalized costumes for kids as projects. And you know, some of these ideas might even save the day if a typical student breaks their leg the week before Halloween. And we don’t want to stop at Halloween, be sure to use these ideas. Whenever a student might need a costume, maybe for a dance recital, a school play a church, Christmas pageant and more don’t forget those fun dances on Tik TOK or other social media sites. Here are some websites that I have seen that have ideas. I’ve seen commercial wheelchair decor and costumes on Party City and Disney websites.

Lisa (04:56):

They don’t have a lot of themes and they run out of their supply pretty quick. So if you’re interested in purchasing, you want to do that as soon as possible. https://Magicwheelchair.org also has lots of ideas with pictures on their website. I also like the costume-works.com website because it allows people to upload pictures of their costumes. They make along with the description of the materials used in how they made it. For example, here’s the description for a spin beats wheelchair costume. The parents said my 14-year-old son uses a wheelchair and this costume was created to attach to his chair. He’s a cool kid. So we came up with DJ smooth as his stage name, but I encourage others to create their own unique name. The materials we used were a cardboard box, neon paint, black poster board, various disposable household items for the speakers, knobs, turntable and power box alphabet, cutouts headphones, zip ties and control panels that were printed from the internet.

Lisa (06:10):

The total cost was less than $20. That’s pretty awesome. I think, and I will have a picture in the show notes. And this came from https://www.costume-works.com/spinnin-beats.html. So please remember that some of the ideas that you will find online are pretty elaborate over the top. And engineering feats created by professionals. Others are just homemade out of cardboard. All of them are amazing. So if you are an adult out there, that’s wanting to create a wheelchair, costume or decor for a student or your child. Don’t be discouraged. If your skills aren’t professional kids have great imaginations and whatever you come up will be fun. And probably exactly what they want. I remember the year that I read a book to my class, it was the lion, the witch and the wardrobe fun fact. A lot of people don’t know. I taught three years of third grade and the other 20 plus years have been in special ed.

Lisa (07:14):

Anyway, we had this Narnia theme going on for a while in my class. So I planned a huge celebration day after we finished reading the book, I had a mega scavenger hunt with lots of people involved throughout the day and even a visit from Aslan himself. I spent hours and hours creating the clues and the materials and the activities and everything. But do you know what most of the kids said was their favorite part of the whole day? It was the very beginning when each one took a turn going into the empty closet to pretend to go to Narnia. There was nothing in that closet. Nothing changed in the class when they came out, but with their imagination, they went in the closet, closed the door and they felt the fur coats. They felt the snow when they reached their hand out. And when they came out, each one truly believed they were in Narnia. That’s the power of imagination. So brainstorm with your students and get them to come up with some ideas. And if you’re an adult working to decorate a wheelchair, have fun and know that the love involved will make any effort. Awesome. And the smile on a child’s face when he or she is driving their Batmobile, slay, dragon, race, car unicorn, or whatever will be priceless.

Lisa (08:37):

See the show notes at https://lisagoodell.com/podcast 29 for links to all of the websites I mentioned, and I might throw in some more!

Lisa (09:09):

Now, when I start to get stressed or overwhelmed about school stuff, I find it helps to take a moment to slow down, stop and focus on my breathing. Sometimes I also might say the Serenity Prayer aloud or in my head. Here it is: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I might also add a few of my own words. Here’s a sample for us special educators: Help us to listen and truly understand our students. Please give us words, actions, and solutions, which will help in difficult situations. May our classrooms be peaceful places where teachers, staff, and students learn and thrive. After that, I try to go out and find someone else to help because helping others keeps me from selfishly dwelling on my own problems. Thank you so much for listening. And I hope you’ve heard something helpful during this episode that you can implement in your teaching. Remember, you are amazing! What you do makes a difference, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Go find someone else to encourage because they probably need to be reminded that they are amazing, too!

(10:52): End

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