A Look Back at a Halloween Filled With More Treats Than Tricks
Halloween is over, and I’m happy to say we all got through it. While it was one of my favorite holidays when I was a kid, celebrating it with children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy has made trick-or-treating challenging in ways I never dreamed of.
This week, I’ll be writing about some of the challenges I managed to get around this Halloween with the hope that they might be helpful to readers.
One of the biggest problems about Halloween has become getting around with the boys. When they were little, they could walk up a step or two and trick-or-treat. We usually brought a wagon or a double stroller and would push them if they needed a rest. But a lot of times they walked, looking a lot like all the other trick-or-treaters out on Halloween night.
After my middle son, Rowen, 12, started to struggle going up stairs, we would lift him to the porch or he would stay in his stroller or mobility scooter, and one of his siblings, and eventually my husband, Jason, or I, would get candy for him.
When Rowen began using a power chair, he began to feel like his social life was being affected, particularly at Halloween, after he overheard his peers at school talking about going out trick-or-treating together without him. Last year, I nipped the problem in the bud by telling him he couldn’t go out with his friends anyway because of the pandemic. But this year, there was no ignoring it. When Rowen began to think he was being left out of a group trick-or-treat again, he said he would stay home instead.
“I’m staying home, and Halloween is ruined forever,” he declared, a little dramatically. All the Vertin kids have a flair for the dramatic.
I was able to resolve things for Rowen by reaching out to a friend with a child in the same class, and the two boys went out together with a couple of other boys from their school and had fun. It worked out, and Halloween wasn’t “ruined forever.”
My youngest son, Charlie, 10, who also has Duchenne, ended up having the best Halloween of his life after he asked me to find out from his friends’ parents about any plans. He enjoyed the time with a group of friends and their families, as well as a few members of our family.
My oldest son, Max, who is almost 16, loves Halloween, but this year he wanted to do something a little more grown-up than trick-or-treating with his little brother and sister. It worked out perfectly that his improv and drama club went out on the afternoon of Halloween and trick-or-treated for canned goods to donate. He hesitated at first, because Jason and I had to drive, as the only family with a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, and high school kids don’t always want Mom and Dad around.
I’m also finding that it helps to enjoy the holiday by celebrating Halloween on more than just one night. We participate in school Halloween activities, such as a saints’ parade and a Catholic-themed wax museum, so the kids get to be surrounded by people we know. We also do the trunk-or-treat at the school, which is wheelchair-accessible, and we decorate our van and dress in costumes. It’s great fun!
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