Dressing Kids with Autism: Practical Tips and Strategies
J Julia DeNey

Dressing Kids with Autism: Practical Tips and Strategies

Nov 22, 2023

Dressing children with autism can sometimes be tricky, and we're here to share some helpful tips. We'll explore how routines, sensory activities, and consistency play a key role in making this daily task a bit easier. Recognizing that every child is different, let's dive into how routines can reduce anxiety, sensory activities can make dressing more comfortable, and why being consistent is crucial.

Here are some tips for making mornings much easier with your child with autism. 

Autistic boy in sensory friendly outfit with hoodie's hood up. The front magnetic closure is partly done up.

Establish a Routine to Reduce Anxiety 

Establishing routines is crucial, particularly for children, and even more so for those with autism. Clothing and dressing become integral parts of these routines. When children know what to expect and understand expected behavior, it significantly reduces anxiety. This is evident when new kids enter a classroom; initially, they might be overwhelmed and uncertain. However, as they become familiar with the routine, even understanding the concept of time without reading a clock, they gain confidence. They start cleaning up or sitting for group activities at specific times, demonstrating their ability to synchronize with expectations.

Consistency in routines is especially beneficial for children who may experience anxiety related to sensory aspects of clothing or dressing. Having the same expectation each day, such as wearing the same type of clothing, can provide comfort and predictability. Whether it's having seven identical outfits for each day of the week or another consistent approach, it helps children know what to expect. This familiarity reduces the sense of fear or uncertainty, making the steps to getting dressed feel like a natural and expected part of their routine.

Add Sensory Activities to the Routine 

Finding a routine that suits your unique household and child is essential. Incorporating sensory activities before getting dressed can be a valuable addition. This can include activities like wrapping them in a blanket for sensory input or using a swing if available in your home. There are various options and activities tailored to individual preferences.

By integrating sensory activities as part of their routine, you provide a way for them to regulate and ease into the dressing experience. Whether it's jumping on a trampoline, enjoying a calming activity, or any other preferred sensory input, engaging in these activities beforehand can make the transition to getting dressed less daunting. It becomes a more manageable process when they've had a chance to engage in activities they find enjoyable and calming before moving on to the next step.

Stay Consistent! 

Parents often find themselves physically challenged when it comes to dressing their kids, especially given how surprisingly strong young children can be. If a child is resistant to getting dressed, it can turn into a challenging battle. While there may not be an instant solution, strategies like establishing a consistent routine and working with a child's therapist can significantly help. The goal is to gradually decrease the frequency of these battles over time.

While there's no magical answer, attempting various approaches and ensuring the clothes are comfortable for the child is crucial. Regulating them before the dressing process can also be helpful. Establishing a routine, using visuals, collaborating with the child's therapist, and setting clear expectations for behavior are essential components. Reading and learning from resources, like this blog, indicates a proactive approach. Consistency is key, ensuring that the routine remains the same, regardless of who is involved in the morning routine. Although there might not be a magical cure, trying different strategies and maintaining consistency can make the process more manageable. It's important to acknowledge that establishing boundaries is part of the process, and children often thrive with clear expectations, even if it takes time and effort to achieve a smoother routine.

Making Dressing Easier for Kids with Autism

Dressing kids with autism can be challenging, but there are ways to make it smoother. Stick to routines supported by visual schedules to provide a sense of security, try sensory activities that suit your child's preferences, find sensory-friendly clothing they can tolerate and be consistent to overcome challenges. While there might not be a magic solution, with dedication and understanding, parents can create a routine that works for their child, making the dressing process more manageable.

Sensory-Friendly Clothing For Autism 

Creating sensory-friendly clothing for neurodivergent kids is what Sense-ational You is all about. Check out our selection of sensory-friendly clothing today! 

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