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SANDY — For some, the necessity of a walker may hinder a costume’s look. For a local 3-year-old, however, it made the costume better.
Chantelle Bailey’s little boy Sebastian has cerebral palsy, and as a result uses a walker to support him. She wanted to dress Sebastian in a costume, but didn’t want the walker to take away from the look, so she incorporated it and played it up, taking the costume to a whole new level.
This year, Sebastian was Clark Kent, complete with telephone booth and theme music. The famous ‘S’ symbol peeked out from beneath a white button-down shirt, the telephone booth lit up and a pair of black eyeglasses hung from his shirt pocket.
“Mom and Dad went a little crazy, but it was so well-received,” Chantelle said.
Chantelle knew Sebastian wouldn’t tolerate a mask and most importantly, she wanted him to be independent. She learned last year that he couldn’t hold a basket for his candy on his own, and he can’t say “trick-or-treat.” So this year, she affixed a dowel that held the basket to the walker and had Sebastian’s older brother record “trick-or-treat” onto a device with a button, which she put in the phone booth.
“This way he can stand at the door with his siblings,” Chantelle said. “I want him to be independent and be able to do things. He’s held back enough by his disability that it’s never going to be the same as my other children who are typical, but every little bit helps. If I can give him access to his speech button while he’s standing with his walker at the front door, that’s so much better because he has control over that.”
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When Chantelle first hooked the telephone booth to his walker and showed Sebastian, he was apprehensive, she said. He ran his little fingers over the window cutouts and stared at the red box for some time before giving it a go. Though Sebastian is unable to use words, Chantelle said he expressed his delight with the costume.
Last weekend, Chantelle took Sebastian to a trunk-or-treat, where parents and kids alike talked to Sebastian about his costume. Chantelle said it was a nice way to ease other kids, who often shy away, into talking to him.
“I loved that the other kids were so excited and really wanted to come up and see him and check it out,” Chantelle said. “When you have a kid with special needs, your kid stands out. Generally speaking, there’s something different about your kid. I wanted him to stand out, in a good way. It made all the kids want to come up and see him. A lot of times, kids don’t know how to approach them. ...This was a really easy way for people to come up and interact with Sebastian.”
Chantelle has also headed up an effort with the United Angels Foundation to help parents of children with special needs find costumes that utilize wheelchairs and walkers. She notes that every child’s need will be different: some won’t tolerate masks or some will need communication aids, among other things.
"This is one area that I’ve sort of been more of a lead on, but there's plenty of other things that I get from the other parents," Chantelle said. "I’m grateful that I'm able to provide some ideas for other parents who will be looking for costumes for their children."
Video Contributing: Devon Dolan