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This is How We do Easter Egg Hunts for Our Special Needs Child

Jamie Sumner
Special needs mom, author and blogger
04/06/20  8:00 AM PST
Easter egg hunts

Think all the way back to Easter egg hunts when you were a kid. You know that feeling when you spot an egg hiding under a clump of irises that no one else has noticed?

Around you is pure chaos. Bodies knock into each other like drunken monkeys. Screams of either delight or terror rise up from the masses. But you don’t care. That egg is yours. You dart closer. Your foot gets trampled. Somebody knocks into your basket and you lose a fistful of artificial grass. But you don’t stop. Your gaze narrows to a pinpoint. All you see is that egg that no one else has seen and it is yours. By some miracle, you make it across the sea of grass and children and reach down, your fingertips grazing its surface. That’s when it happens—a hand swoops in and swipes it before you can even make sense of the tragedy. You watch the embroidered dress of the victor disappear into the crowd and you feel…bereft. That was your egg. And now it’s gone.

We’ve all been there. But for my son, Charlie, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, this was every egg, on every hunt. It was hard for him to reach all the way down from the height of his chair and grab the plastic eggs. It was a full-ab workout to earn even one. When he did manage it, the egg’s surface was so slippery it often tumbled from his hands. And kids in the midst of the hunt get excited. If they see an opportunity like that last egg rolling across the lawn, they’re going to go for it. Kindness makes way for adrenaline. So, more often than not, Charlie’s basket was woefully empty unless we scavenged for the eggs for him. Nobody wants their parents filling their basket. It’s like letting other kids open your presents at your birthday party.

After years of this, in a moment of desperation, I emailed the coordinator of our church a picture I found online. It was one of those Easter Pinterest rabbit holes that turn into black holes you may never find your way out of again. And secretly you don’t want to. In this case, that one picture changed everything. Because it offered up an idea for how Charlie could hunt eggs on his own terms.Easter egg hunt

The solution was almost so simple, it was laughable.

We tied the strings of balloons filled with helium to eggs filled with candy. That’s it. Every egg got one balloon. When Charlie rolled up in his pastel tie-dyed t-shirt, ready for yet another awkward attempt at wheelchair egg hunting, he found himself in a sea of balloons with eggs floating along the ground like ready money.

Suddenly, gravity was his friend. He didn’t have to bend all the way down any longer. No more full-on crunches just to get the prize. All he had to do was reach the strings, hoist up his findings and toss them in the basket hooked to his chair. It was glorious. He bobbed and weaved and started to get choosy. Instead of desperately grabbing because, if given the choice, who wouldn’t? And now he finally had a choice.

I stepped aside for the first time in his seven years and let him to it on his own.

It was independence and inclusion and honestly, a lot more fun than the original. This was Easter egg hunting re-vamped. There were no tears that day, only candy and a full basket. The balloons drifted across our living room floor like tumbleweeds until May—cheerful reminders of a job well-done on his part.

Not everything that makes our lives different is harder. In this instance, and in so many more, it has given us the chance to make the ordinary, extraordinary. These are the golden egg moments.

special needs parents

Jamie Sumner is a special needs mom, author and blogger.

Discover her new book, Unbound: Finding Freedom from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood.

Read her blog, The Mom Gene.

Follow her on Facebook.



  1. Bernadette Dunbar
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 10:34 am PDT

    LOVE THIS!!!! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Posted April 8, 2020 at 12:56 pm PDT

    I absolutely LOVE this!!!
    Every child should have a chance. Thank You!

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