Sensory-Friendly Clothes for the Autistic Child
Clothing for the autistic child can cover a wide range of needs. What is important or helpful with one child may be totally different than what is needed by another child.
Fortunately, today, there are many brands of clothing specifically designed for the autistic child. Some of these companies were started by parents of autistic children in order to make available what was previously lacking—and needed—on the market. Here is a list of some of the common issues that appropriate clothing addresses.
- Sensory-friendly (soft). Some children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) find clothing that is scratchy or stiff to be intolerable. So, the first category would be soft fabrics such as fleece or prewashed denim or other very soft natural or artificial fibers. Soft clothing may also have fewer seams and no rough-edged labels inside.
- Sensory-friendly (variety). Other autistic children may benefit from some tactile stimulation. To this end, there are clothing designs that might have, for example, pockets or flaps with different textures that the child can touch and retouch all day long.
- Sensory-friendly (pressure). Many autistic children benefit from having clothing that is more fitted and puts pressure on them. There are coats and vests and scarves, for example, that are weighted so as to add a constant pressure on the skin. For some children, this pressure reduces fear and anxiety.
- Ease of wear. A number of autistic children have a hard time with fine motor skills, which extends to difficulty managing buttons or zippered trousers, for example. If this is a problem, then there are clothes that are designed to be easier to get on and off. Ease-of-wear clothing can make the difference between a child being able to dress him or herself—or not.
You may not realize how much the child’s clothing affects his or her day-to-day behaviour, but it’s worth exploring. The child who isn’t very communicative may not be able to articulate exactly why he doesn’t like his sweatshirt. But once you hit on the clothing solution that best suits your child—like very snug-fitting tops—the positive change in your child’s behaviour may surprise you.