Sensory friendly outfit on autistic model in a ball pit.
J Julia DeNey

How Can Clothing Make a Difference for Autistic Children?

Feb 21, 2023

You might be wondering how clothing can make a difference for your autistic child. And I don’t mean a puzzle piece or infinity symbol t-shirt. 

Clothing is apart of our daily lives. It is how we first express ourselves to the room and dictates how we are going to feel not only emotionally about ourselves, but also physically. Imagine if you were wearing a wool sweater to our workout class. Not only would be you not have your full range of motion to do the workouts, but you would also be extremely itchy and hot. This discomfort would likely stop you from even completely the class.

For kids with tactile sensitivities, what they wear can do beyond discomfort to pain. And no one would expect you to be able to listen or learn in that level of pain. Sensory friendly clothing featuring flat seams and no tags can make a big difference for these kids.

But is it enough?

This is what we asked ourselves and the answer was very quickly NO. 

Clothing has the unique opportunity to allow your kids to have the tools they need on hand at all times. No more panicking trying to remember where you put their compression vest when they need it most or realizing you left it in the car. 

Fashion is able to hide a lot within it’s designs with some creativity. From hidden compression linings that give your child calming proprioceptive input wherever they are to sound reducing hoodies that are a built in sensory break no matter where you are. 

The beauty of hidden functions is not just that you don’t have to remember a separate sensory tool, but also that no one will have to know it is a sensory tool unless the wearers wants them to. If they feel self conscious about wearing a compression vest over their clothes to class with their peers and therefore don’t wear it, they aren’t getting the best sensory support. However, when that vest is built in underneath their shirt, they have quick easy access to the sensory input they need without their peers needing to know.

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