Many children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) experience heightened levels of sensory information that can create discomfort. Their experiences of hypersensitivity often include their sense of touch. You will often notice that children on the autism spectrum have difficulty finding comfortable clothes and struggle with issues like breaking in new shoes.
If you struggle with helping your autistic child find clothing that they will wear, you will want to consider what is creating the difficulty. Once you determine what is causing your child discomfort, there are several things you can do to help. You will find that there are some fairly easy ways to help your autistic child overcome issues related to clothing.
Ways to Help an Autistic Child Deal with Clothing Issues:
Helping your child live in comfort means, first and foremost, figuring out what your child is experiencing. Some children on the autism spectrum will experience
- Clothing as scratchy
- Clothing as stiff
- Issues with binding around arms and legs
- Sensitivity to elastic
- Irritation from seams
- Difficulty dealing with fasteners
- Clothing as too confining
- An aversion to a particular texture
You can help your child deal with these issues by finding clothing designed to:
- Be Soft: Many clothing manufacturers are using soft materials for children’s clothing. Brushed and combed cotton is generally a good choice of fabrics for your autistic child. Although many blended materials feel soft to the touch, you should also be aware that your child may struggle with feeling too warm in synthetic fabrics as they do not breathe as well as natural fabrics.
- Allow Ease of Movement: Pre-washed fabrics and athletic wear often work well for children on the autism spectrum. Many children on the autism spectrum will find denim stiff and frustrating due to binding waistlines and difficult closures. Choosing athletic wear rather than bluejeans is often an easy solution for daily school wear. If your child is interested in jeans, look for prewashed comfortably stretchy denim. You may want to look for jeans with elastic waists if your child struggles with snaps and zippers as well.
- Have Limited elastic: Autistic children often struggle with under garments due to the way thin elastic cuts into their limbs. Luckily, there are increasingly more options to traditional brief underwear. You will find many brands using wider elastic at openings to reduce the likelihood of discomfort at waist and leg openings. If your child is extremely sensitive to underwear, you may want to try elastic free and tag free underwear options.
- Have Less Irritating or No Seams: Autistic children also tend to struggle with socks and shoes. Toe seams in socks are often frustrating whether or not your child is on the autism spectrum. Kids on the autism spectrum are even more sensitive to socks and shoes than other kids. If you can avoid socks with large seams at the toes it will help a great deal. Looking for well fitting socks that are less likely to fall about your child’s foot and cause rubbing at wrinkles will be a big help in keeping your child happy.
- Have Less Irritating or No tags: Tags create frustration and irritation for many children. Kids on the autism spectrum often struggle more with the irritation of tags than other children. You will often find that removing a tag is insufficient, as the seams where tags are sown in are thick and can continue to create irritation. Luckily more manufacturers are using soft fabrics for tags, creating tear away tags, or making tagless options.
- Wik Moisture: Kids with autism can be more sensitive to moisture and heaviness associated with clothing that have become wet due to sweating than other kids. To help your child remain comfortable in warm weather and when physically active, consider natural fabric like cotton and fabrics designed to wick away moisture.
- Provide deep pressure without restricting movement: Many children with sensory issues find the pressure of compression clothing reassuring and calming. Compression clothing works essentially the same way a weighted blanket does. Many children on the autism spectrum find gentle deep pressure in stretchable fabric comforting and reassuring.
Other ways to help your autistic child deal with clothing related issues include:
- Allowing your child a choice when dressing for the day. Providing your child a choice between two shirts or pairs of socks helps them to feel in control and will help them to deal with the things that they can’t control.
- Buying more than one of your child's favorite piece of clothing. Since autistic children often struggle to find clothes they enjoy, it is a good idea to invest in more than one of your autistic child's favorite piece of clothing.
- Allow for extra time. Children on the autism spectrum may need more time to dress. Adding extra time to your daily schedule to accommodate your child’s need for time to dress can make this daily challenge move more smoothly.
7 of the best clothing lines for autistic children:
Here are some of the best clothing companies that make products for autistic children.
Hanna Andersson makes simple, colorful clothes from 100% organic cotton. Their clothes are constructed of OEKO-TEX certified cloth that helps to protect your child’s sensitive skin. OEKO-TEX certification is given to clothing safe from harmful chemicals and dyes.
Hanna Andersson produces products for babies to kids up to 14 years old. Parents can also find matching pajamas (women’s Mommy and Me pajamas sell for $94). Long sleeve kids pajamas sell for $46.
Hanna Andersson clothing features extra smooth flatlock seams, encased elastic, zipper guards, and nickel-free snaps and zippers for added comfort. Print tees for boys can be found for $24. Hoodies for toddlers cost $42 with hoodies for kids selling for $54. Girls Soft Art Tees retail for $28, and Super Soft Skater dresses are priced at $48.
Alien Loud Music:
For discerning teens, Alien Loud Music shirts design ASD friendly t-shirts. These intentionally designed shirts feature high quality 100% combed ringspun cotton jersey with tear-away tags. Due to the high quality of the cotton used in constructing these unique t-shirts, they lie more lightly about the shoulders and provide long-lasting durability.
Some of the designs available from Alien Loud Music Shirts are limited edition and range in price from $32-38 each. However, the icon long-running shirts are listed for $25-30 each. You will find a variety of cool designs on these quality t-shirts. Most of their long-run designs are available in a wide range of colors allowing your teen to have a variety of high-quality comfort for daily life.
Smart Knit Kids:
Smart Knit Kids offers a variety of seamless products to help you and your child avoid those irritating seams that frustrate so many autistic children.
You can buy your autistic child a set of three pairs of seamless underwear for between $26 and $32 on Amazon. You will find Boxer Briefs for your growing boys and Boy Cut Undies for your growing girls.
You will also find bralettes for young girls and “compresso” tees for young boys. These specially designed undergarments offer the sensation of a gentle hug that many children on the autism spectrum find reassuring and anxiety-reducing. There is no elastic used in Smart Knit Kids products to bind or wear against sensitive skin.
Smart Knit Kids also offers seamless socks designed to help reduce your autistic child’s aversion to wearing shoes. Designed to be super soft and form-fitting, these moisture-wicking socks will reduce the likelihood of bunching and wrinkling that can lead to sensitive wear against your child’s feet.
Target has an adaptive clothing line for kids who struggle with sensory challenges and other special needs. This clothing line features no tags, flat seams, and cotton blends for softness and comfort. This site offers cost conscious choices for children who struggle with comfort but can tolerate flat seams.
You will find girls leggings priced $7.50 for two pair. Toddler t-shirts sell for $9.50 for two, and pajamas range in price from $12.99 to $14.99.
You will also find tagless options from Hanes for your autistic kids. If your child struggles with tags but can tolerate elastic and seams, Hanes brand is a much less expensive option for obtaining your autistic child’s undergarments. You will find Boys Tagless Briefs (7 pack for $9.99), boys crewneck t-shirts (6-pack for $13), Toddler Girl’s Cotton Hipsters (6-pack for $8).
Van’s offers a collection of sensory-friendly footwear and apparel. The items in Van’s Autism Awareness Collection feature calming colors and soft materials. Van’s Comfy Cush Old Skool Shoes are produced with soft outsoles and rubber tread for a winning combination of comfort and durability. Priced at $75, these shoes are designed with added arch support and moisture-wicking linings for added comfort.
Kozie Clothes provides a selection of compression clothes that can be worn as outerwear or under clothing to help your autistic child relax. These clothes are designed to provide deep pressure without binding. Compression clothing works the same way as a weighted blanket. Kozie’s compression clothing supports the release of serotonin and dopamine.
Neurotransmitters released due to the gentle pressure of compression clothes will help your child feel calm. In response to compression clothes, your child can be expected to experience a reduced heart rate and blood pressure. The gentle pressure of compression clothing can help your child feel safe as he/she moves through the day.
You will find short sleeve compression shirts for $38 to $46 each. Long sleeve compression shirts retail for $39. Unisex compression shorts will cost $35 and compression pants will cost $38. Kozie offers compression clothing for children from 12 months to size 16.
Smart Knit Kids:
Smart Knit Kids Compresso-T offers gentle compression. Easily worn under everyday clothes, this t-shirt is an exceptional layer that allows your child to feel a relaxing all day hug from a soft tagless shirt. Designed of wicking fabric, this sleeveless t-shirt provides four way stretch and is available on Amazon for $14.99 to 22.96 each or $41.96 for a set of three.