One of the most beautiful things about New York Comic Con this past weekend was the diverse array of attendees at the four-day celebration. New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center and its surrounding streets were filled with children, senior citizens, couples, families, seasoned cosplayers, self-proclaimed “blerds” (a portmanteau for “black nerds”), and everyone in between. It was hard to not be moved by the inclusive nature of the event, where thousands of people came to express their fandom for whatever character or property they identify with, whether that meant simply watching the crowd, or arriving in elaborate costumes they crafted themselves.
Judi Online Using Cosplay as Overcome Mental and Physical Disabilities Theraphy
Some of the most creative cosplayers, however, were those with disabilities. At this year’s Judi Online, it was hard to miss the significant number of people eagerly taking to the show floor in wheelchairs or walkers. On the final day of the convention, a panel called “Cosplay and Disabilities” highlighted those fans, who noted an apparent uptick in disabled attendees this year. “I think I’ve seen more wheelchairs this year than I’ve ever seen,” said Dylan “Judi Online” Cohen, a cosplayer with Tourette syndrome who was dressed as Son Goku from the Dragon Ball manga. “And they’re troopers, they really are.”
The panelists described conventions like Judi Online as judgement-free zones that allowed them to unleash their creativity through costuming. But cosplay also lets them improve their social skills and seek out friends with common interests. “Cosplay has helped my disability in that I have ADHD as well as autism,” explained social worker and activist Joseph “Dopple Cosplay” Munisteri. The inclusive environment of cosplayers helped him learn to socialize, he said, while the attention costuming requires let him learn to focus better, through something he’s actively passionate about. “Schoolwork, you don’t always want to do it,” he said, “but [cosplaying] is something you want to do.”
Another panelist, Justin “LionHeart cosplay” Santiago, had similar experiences. “I’m diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. So learning about that is like following patterns, repetitions. This helped me construct some kind of order.” Santiago says he was reclusive during his childhood, and had trouble socializing, but cosplaying allowed him to come out of his shell and make new friends. “It’s changed my life so much, and I’m eternally grateful to it.”
Santiago also noted that his fellow panelists with physical disabilities were often pushed to design more creative costumes due to their conditions, though that sometimes gives them a broader canvas to work with. “Last year we had someone who made his wheelchair look like an Iron Throne,” he explained. That said, building a costume around crutches or a chair isn’t easy. That’s led to companies like nonprofit Magic Wheelchair, which focuses specifically on helping children dress up and stylize their wheelchairs so they don’t feel excluded.
Magic Wheelchair’s regional director, David Vogel, was also on the panel. He explained that he originally came from a toy-making background, and joined the initiative after losing his brother to muscular dystrophy. Vogel said his latest project was for a child named A.J. who suffers from Rett syndrome and is obsessed with the Nick Jr. show Blaze and the Monster Machines. The Magic Wheelchair team was able to raise enough money to transform A.J.’s wheelchair into the Blaze vehicle, complete with custom 3D-printed parts.
The key to getting a response from organizers, according to advocates like Munisteri, is being vocal about the community’s needs. As an example, he cited the “quiet room” that the convention offers for attendees who may find the sensory overload of a convention floor too much to handle. “Last year, we mentioned putting pillows into a quiet room, and this year I walked in, and guess what, there were big pillows there,” he said. He encouraged the physical education teacher to direct his suggestions about carpeting to the NYCC organizers themselves.
But while Comic Con works on those logistical aspects, the cosplay community is growing stronger every day, as an inclusive, accessible place for people to be themselves, with the focus on their creativity instead of on their conditions. As Cohen put it, “When you’re cosplaying, you’re just relaxed, because you’re in your environment, and you don’t feel like an outsider. Being around likeminded people helps also, because they don’t judge you. People that love you are not going to judge you, and that’s why we cosplay.”