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Autism and Clothing: Towards a Better-Fitting Future

When raising a child with autism, it is hardly an overstatement that just about every aspect of life has to be looked at in a new life, be it a child’s diet, education, environment at home, and even the very clothes they wear.

One primary issue of children with autism and sensory challenges in general is that they have a greater deal of difficulty in finding clothes that aren’t irritable to their skin. Another issue that many parents encounter is difficulty in coaxing their child into keeping their clothing on in the first place. Finally, we’ll look at one mother/entrepreneur who is using clothing as a tool for parents of autism to drastically reduce their stress levels.

Children with autism and sensory challenges have many enemies when it comes to clothing. Clothing tags, exposed elastic bands, and itchy socks are just some of the challenges facing children with special needs. As more parents start requesting sensory friendly clothing more stores will start to carry these products.

For parents looking for brands of clothing that will assuage their child’s discomfort, they should look into such well-respected brands as Soft Clothing, Smart Knit Kids, Kozie Clothes, and Therapro, just to name a few.

One of the concerns that each of the above brands seeks to address is creating clothing in which children feel unrestricted in. While all children will often feel uncomfortable in clothes at a young age and seek to constantly remove their clothing, this can become an issue in children with autism as they sometimes do not outgrow this behavior.

While finding comfortable, non-irritable clothes is often the first step, there are also many solutions that aren’t sensory focused, such as engaging in behavioral modification in the form of instruction through the use of picture books or providing positive reinforcement for good behavior. If you are unable to find appropriate clothing or your child is not responding to behavioral modifications, then it might be time to physically alter the clothing to prohibit your child from removing it.

Finally, a recent story is a fantastic demonstration of the amazingly productive creativity that having a child with autism can inspire. CNN anchor Lauren Thierry’s 17-year-old son Liam has low functioning ASD. As is widely known, it has been found that mothers of kids with autism have high levels of stress and Thierry is no different, having resigned from her position at CNN to focus on caring for her son, which led her to trying to find a new solution for many of the clothing-related issues discussed above.

As such, she founded Independence Day Clothing, which is a line of GPS-enabled clothes that eases parents’ safety worries while making it easier than ever for those with autism and other disabilities to dress themselves. Her design has cut dressing time by nearly 90 percent by removing specific fronts, backs, insides, or outside. But more importantly, by enabling the clothing with GPS trackers, Thierry has removed her constant worry about where her son might be and can now track him when he is not with her.

So while many people might take being able to dress themselves quickly and easily in the morning for granted, the above examples illustrate that.