Having three children with autism spectrum disorder, we experience a wide range of symptoms. There are certain textures that my daughter cannot handle touch at all. With our son, the very idea of putting a shirt on sends him into a complete meltdown. Thankfully he is only two right now, but getting dressed is a social norm we will have to help him adjust to.
Though it is a process, this sensory issue can be worked through. Our friend Alex G Forrester has been so gracious as to share his top tips for dressing sensory sensitive children. Whether your child has autism, sensory processing disorder, or any other reason that cause discomfort in clothing, this will be very helpful information!
8 Top Tips For Dressing Sensory Sensitive Children
If you have sensory sensitive children — or have skin sensitivities yourself — you know how hard it can be to find the right clothes that avoid causing irritation or discomfort. Whether you are dressing them for school or bed, or if you’re just looking for the perfect outfit to take them out to enjoy some family-friendly summer activities, these tips can help minimize the stress on you and your child while getting dressed.
1. Remember to be Patient
It’s important to always remember that children with neurological differences, or those who suffer from clothing sensitivities, aren’t just being stubborn or picky when they tell you they are uncomfortable. Itchy, hot, or rough-feeling clothes can cause sensory sensitive children a lot of discomforts, which can lead to rants or meltdowns when getting dressed. Stay patient with them and believe them when they tell you they are uncomfortable.
2. Find Alternatives
Trial and error is key with sensory sensitive children. If one article of clothing irritates their skin, search around for alternatives to make them more comfortable. Try to find them softer, less irritating clothing, depending on their needs, and eventually, you can create the perfect wardrobe to keep them comfortable and relaxed.
3. Always Be Prepared
While being patient and understanding with your sensory sensitive child can make them feel more comfortable about what they choose to wear, it can also lead to some regrets later on. For example, children who are bothered by gloves or hats may find that the temperature outside is much more frigid than they imagined, so it’s important to always plan ahead and bring that extra pair of weather-appropriate clothes for them to change into.
4. Try to Avoid Seams
While most people hardly notice them, seams on the insides of pants and shirts can cause children with sensory sensitivities irritation and downright drive them crazy. When you are dressing your child or helping them pick out new clothes, look for brands and styles that have minimal seams on the inside. Otherwise, you could be looking at a lot of clothes worn inside out.
5. Talk to Your Child About Social Norms
Children with sensitivities to fabrics will do anything to be comfortable — and often, that means wearing nothing at all when it’s an option. For young kids, it is important to talk with them about social norms and when wearing (and not) wearing clothing is appropriate.
If it’s just you and your child at home alone, allow them to shed the clothing if it helps them avoid the irritation that clothing and undergarments can cause them, but remind them of the importance of always wearing clothes when around other people, like at school, in restaurants, and at the supermarket.
Helping your child understand social norms and why it is important to wear clothing, even when it’s uncomfortable, can help take the stress out of dressing them.
6. Find the Right Shoes
When it comes to choosing footwear for your sensory sensitive child, having a talk with them can be very important. While many kids with sensitivities prefer to wear sandals and other open-toed shoes, this type of footwear isn’t practical for cold weather or many physical activities like running, riding a bike, or having fun on a playground.
Talk to your kids about why closed-toe shoes are important and when it is and isn’t appropriate or safe for them to wear sandals.
7. Find a Routine
The process of getting dressed can be important for helping your child feel comfortable in what they are wearing. Find a pattern that they like for putting on clothes and stick with it. This will help make getting dressed a more predictable routine and can help with their tolerance for wearing the clothes as well. Once you have a routine in place, you’ll be surprised how easy mornings could be.
8. Let Them Choose
Let your child choose their own clothes when it’s appropriate. This can make them more comfortable with different colors, fabrics, and textures, and help reduce their clothing sensitivities. There are plenty of cute outfits for girls and trendy boy’s clothes available that will meet their sensitivity needs and make you feel good about what they are wearing.
Putting it All Together
Dressing sensory sensitive children don’t have to be a painful or stressful event for either one of you. Follow these eight essential tips to help your child find the right colors, styles, and fabrics for them. with your support, they can overcome their sensitivities and make getting dressed a worry-free routine altogether.