Addressing Dressing

Any parent of child on the spectrum knows that getting dressed is a huge task.  I thought I’d share some useful tips and tools that I have learned along the way that has made dressing a little easier.  As with everything, try what you think is best for you and your child.

Adress Dressing

1.     Picture charts help kids know what is expected of them and keeps them on task (or helps get back on task).  Consider making a picture chart for dressing in the morning and getting undressed and into pajamas at night.

2.       Planning outfits for the week or the night before is a good idea so there isn’t an argument in the morning.  Discuss and decide together if your child is young.  It is our job to teach them to be as independent as possible.  So teach them simple things like not to wear strips with polka dots.  Make sure that the clothing is weather appropriate.  However, keep in mind their sensory issues.  (Now that my daughter is older she tells me what clothes are itchy, or uncomfortable.)

3.     Pick your battles.  My sister and brother-in-law told me this.  It is so true.  Does it really matter if they brush their teeth “here or there?”  As long as the goal gets accomplished – the teeth are brushed before they walk out the door.

4.    Save the most uncomfortable task until the end.  In my home it is hair brushing or should I say “was.”  Now we use a special brush called the “Knot Genie,” and a spray bottle with water and a little conditioner.  It also helps my child if she is distracted. So I try to wait until she is dressed and fed then I let her watch a show while I attempt the task of hair brushing. 

5.    Reward charts.  Rewards work, but only you know what works for your child.  For younger kids it can be stickers.  For older kids it can be ten checks on a chart earns them any item at the dollar store or twenty minutes of computer time, etc.

6.    STAY CALM and allow enough time to not be rushed.  Being impatient because you are running late.  If the child becomes distracted or irritated – try setting the timer.  Tell the child they have 1, 3, or 5 minutes to do the task that they are stuck on completing.  Keep in mind that their neural processing does take a little longer at times.

 Leslie Burby

Leslie Burby

Leslie Burby

Leslie Burby is a former Editor of Autism Parenting Magazine and a public speaker on autism related issues. She is the author of three autism related books: Emotional Mastery for Adult's with Autism (2013); Early Signs of Autism in Toddlers, Infants and Babies (2014); and the children's book Grace Figures Out School (2014).

  • Avatar Amy says:

    Hair-brushing has been hard for us too, but one of the biggest issues is that there are clothes that my daughter just wouldn’t wear, which I realise now was a sensory issue – she didn’t like some fabrics, tags etc but couldn’t articulate this to me (even though she’s highly verbal) which left me banging my head against a wall. One solution we’ve found to socks that rub (seams) is just to turn them inside out. Some look fine whichever way they’re on and they’re hidden under jeans most of the time. I know that there are seamless socks, but when you’re on a budget and you’ve bought your child bulk socks for the year only to find they’re not suitable, turning them inside out is a simple fix.

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