Best Autism Apparels for Kids on the Spectrum
If you are caring for a child with autism, you are probably aware of sensory issues when it comes to clothing. Kids on the spectrum can be overly sensitive to clothing tags, seams, and textures that are not comfortable for them. Fortunately, some clothing companies are now making autism apparel that is affordable and available to everyone.
Sensory clothing for autism
Refusing to wear certain clothes can be frustrating for a parent or caregiver. However, you should understand your child might be experiencing discomfort and even pain.
One of the symptoms of autism is sensory processing dysfunction. The DSM-5 defines this condition as “hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment (e.g., apparent indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with lights or movement).”
As a manifestation of sensory processing dysfunction, children with autism might not like wearing certain pieces of clothing. Some children don’t like to feel the labels on shirts (usually found on the back part of the neckline), while others will only wear a specific style or material of clothing.
Parents and caregivers are now finding more options for clothing their child from retailers and clothing lines that sell clothes designed for children with sensory challenges, including those with autism.
Some popular stores with sensory clothing for autism include the following:
Target’s adaptive clothing line is a terrific collection of everyday casual wear for boys and girls. The clothes do not have tags, have flat seams, and are made of a cotton-blend for maximum comfort. Hoodies and pants have side openings with either zippers or snap buttons for easy on/off wear. Some denim pants have back elastics and are wheelchair-friendly.
Fun and Function
Fun and Function is an online store with a wide range of products for children with special needs. Their line of autism apparel includes weighted and compression clothing to help children with sensory processing dysfunction. They have weighted vests, weighted caps, and even a weighted necktie.
Kozie Clothes is a clothing line that makes autism apparel, along with other sensory clothing for children with special needs. They sell wearable compression shirts in addition to weighted vests. The shirts are plain in design and look like any other shirt, which they describe as relevant and non-stigmatizing. The compression shirts are made of stretchable fabric that allows the child to move freely.
Smart Knit Kids
The socks from Smart Knit Kids are seamless, soft, and form-fitting. They are specially made for kids with sensory processing issues, specifically those hyper-sensitive to “bumps and lumps” on socks. These socks have non-binding tops so they don’t make indentations or slip down when worn. They also sell underwear and compression undershirts.
Calm Wear offers a unique set of clothes for children with specific clothing issues. For example, their bodysuits are designed for children who are not toilet trained. The suit has snap buttons along the crotch for an easy diaper change. If your child tends to take off his/her clothes inappropriately, this suit will help provide more coverage than regular underwear.
Kohl’s recently added adaptive clothing to their Kid’s Wear section as a step towards bringing inclusion to their store. They sell hoodies, shirts, shorts, and pants that don’t have tags and have flat seams for extra comfort. The special collection features modern and attractive designs that appeal to boys and girls alike.
Autism awareness clothing
One way to make children with autism feel special is with autism awareness clothing. Having a child with autism as a family member or a special member of your community can transform you into an advocate for their needs and well-being. This includes wearing items of clothing like autism t-shirts to show support and make the child feel valued.
Spreadshirt is a great online store with a special section for autism awareness t-shirts. There are many designs to choose from, but you can also get personalized autism shirts. Shirts can be customized if you want them to print your autism shirt ideas.
Redbubble is a great source to find unique autism shirt designs for teens and adults with autism or friends and family of someone with autism. In addition to these shirts, Redbubble has lots of autism awareness merchandises like stickers, mugs, tote bags, and other items that make excellent gifts or giveaways.
Etsy also has many sellers offering beautiful autism shirt designs catering mostly to women. The shirts might appeal to women with autism or moms, teachers, aunts, sisters, and grandmothers of a child with autism.
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Autism gifts and merchandise
Thinking of presents to give children with autism and their families can sometimes be a bit daunting. You want to pick something meaningful and personalized to that specific child while keeping in mind his/her likes and dislikes.
For young kids, a nice sensory toy or activity set like these from Fat Brain Toys are on point. These toys are made specifically for children with special needs.
For children who don’t like wearing headphones or only wear ones that are too big and keep falling off, CozyPhones provide the perfect solution. Headphones stay inside soft headbands with different character designs for a snug and comfortable fit.
Does your child have a drawing of his favorite animal or character? Make it come to life with Budsies custom stuffed animals. Just send them the drawing, and they’ll send you a stuffed version of it. Not only it is a personalized gift—it encourages the child’s creativity and lets him/her know you care about his/her ideas.
Fidget spinners are not as popular as they were a few years ago. A new fidget toy called Kururin is a desktop fidget toy gaining popularity for its simple yet addictive mechanism. It is a small, narrow, drum-like wooden stick that can be flipped, tossed, and pushed on a desk or any flat surface. It aims to improve hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and fine motor skills.
Children with autism can sometimes have a hard time winding down at the end of a long day. They might struggle with bedtime when they are over-stimulated. A calming device or toy like the Tranquil Turtle has proven to help soothe and prepare kids for bed. It projects an underwater effect on the ceiling, creating a calming effect. The light can be set to move or stay still. It’s excellent for helping kids relax and go to sleep.
Children with autism have the potential to grow and improve with the help of people and things around them. As parents and caregivers, it’s essential to be aware of their needs and provide them with the things they need so they can function to the best of their abilities. Comfortable clothes, exciting toys, and thoughtful gifts are small yet impactful things that mean the world to your child.
Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnostic Criteria DSM-5. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/hcp-dsm.html
Sensory Integration in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Retrieved from: https://www.autism.org/sensory-integration/
Autism spectrum disorder in the scope of tactile processing. December 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878929316301414
What is tactile defensiveness? Retrieved from: https://www.griffinot.com/what-is-tactile-defensiveness/
10 Gift Ideas for Toddlers and Teens with Autism (Great Toys to Buy in 2019). 7 December, 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.getanswersnow.com/blog/parents/10-gift-ideas-for-toddlers-teens-with-autism
8 Gifts for Children with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorders. Retrieved from: https://parentingchaos.com/gifts-for-children-with-autism/
Benefits and Uses of Weighted Vest for Autism. Retrieved from: https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/weighted-vest-benefits-for-autism/
Autism Parenting Magazine tries to deliver honest, unbiased reviews, resources, and advice, but please note that due to the variety of capabilities of people on the spectrum, information cannot be guaranteed by the magazine or its writers. Medical content, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other material contained within is never intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read within.
Kim Barloso is a professional researcher and writer for Autism Parenting Magazine who examines the most recent information regarding autism spectrum disorders. A graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, she lives in the Philippines with her two children, one of whom has autism.
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