7 Autism Clothing Issues Parents Come Across (And How To Fix Them)

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As a parent of a child who has special needs, there are many things that you might come across. One of them is in relation to clothing issues.

Some parents of toddlers are usually concerned about their children taking all their clothes off. This is in the case of typical children, who might face this issue at an early age. However, this might not be true for children with autism.

For children with autism, clothing sensitivities can be a major source of anxiety. Many kids with autism feel uncomfortable in certain clothes and will take them off as soon as they get the chance. This can become a problem when the child is outside or in a public place.

There are some parents who have had to deal with this issue. One mother said that she has to keep track of her son at all times because he will take off his clothes and run around naked if she turns her back for even a second.

The real issue is that this problem is not limited to an early age, and can persist beyond what might be called an acceptable age.

Why Do Autistic Kids Have Sensory Issues With Clothing?

There is no one answer to this question, as a child with autism who have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) experiences this differently.

For some children, the textures of certain fabrics can be too overwhelming. Others might find the tags on clothing or the sound of a zipper to be too much for them to handle.

Some kids might feel more comfortable in loose-fitting clothes, while others might prefer clothes that are tightly fitted.

List Of Clothing Issues That Parents Of Autistic Children Face

Some clothing issues that parents of autistic children often face are:

Keeping Track Of The Child At All Times

Parents of autistic children have to keep a track of their children at all times, as they might undress and run around naked if left alone.

This may be due to the fact that autistic children feel uncomfortable in certain clothes and will remove them as soon as they get the chance.

This is a problem especially if the child is outside or in a public place.

Uncomfortable Clothing Can Make The Child Feel Anxious

If a child with autism is made to wear uncomfortable clothing, it can make him or her feel anxious and uneasy.

This is because the child will not be able to focus on anything else but the clothing that is making them so uncomfortable. They might start to fidget and become agitated.

Wanting To Wear The Same Clothes All The Time

Some autistic children might want to wear the same clothes or keep wearing socks all the time. This is because they feel comfortable in those clothes and do not feel overwhelmed by them.

This can be a problem when it comes to going out, as the child will not have anything else to wear.

Difficulty In Understanding Expectations For Clothing

Some autistic children might have difficulty understanding the expectations for clothing. This is because they do not understand the language that is being used or social expectations of what they need to do in certain environments.

This can lead to a lot of frustration for both the child and the parents.

Children With Autism Might Not Want To Dress Up

Some autistic children might not want to dress up for special occasions, such as a family gathering or school event or even wear socks.

Usually, they feel more comfortable when they are dressed in their regular clothes, especially familiar clothing.

Parents might have to deal with the hassle of making last-minute changes to the child’s outfit.

Clothing That Is Easy To Take Off

Some parents have to dress their autistic children in clothes that are easy to take off. This is because some children may have reduced fine and gross motor skills, therefore making it harder for them to remove clothing.

This is a major concern for parents as they need to be thoughtful in choosing the most appropriate clothing for their child.

Clothing That Is Too Tight Might Restrict Movement

If a child’s clothing is too tight, it might restrict their movement. This can be uncomfortable and frustrating for the child.

It is important to find clothes that fit well and are comfortable enough so that the child can move around freely. The best way to do this is to find clothes that are a size bigger than your child’s.

Children With Autism Might Be Sensitive To The Fabric

Some children with autism might be sensitive to the fabric of their clothes, especially if the child is tactile sensitive.

This means that they will feel itchy and uncomfortable when wearing certain fabrics.

Parents need to be aware of this and find clothing made from fabrics that the child is not sensitive to. Settle for soft fabrics or find fabrics that your child is confortable wearing.

The best way to deal with the clothing issues faced by parents of autistic children is to be aware of them. This means that parents need to educate themselves about the different problems that might arise when it comes to choosing clothes for their autistic child.

It is also important to be patient and understanding when dealing with these issues. Autistic children can be very sensitive, so it is best to try and avoid causing them any further discomfort.

How Do You Know If Your Child Has Clothing Sensitivity?

Mom and daughter in the fabric store choose fabric

If your child is sensitive to the fabric of his or her clothes, you will likely see the following symptoms:

  • The child will start to itch and scratch a lot.
  • The child will become agitated and fidgety.
  • They might constantly pull at their clothing.
  • Refusing to wear clothing due to its material, fit, seam, or color.

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms and it is greatly impacting their daily life, it is best to take him or her to a doctor or Occupational Therapist for further evaluation.

Doctors will investigate underlying causes for the child’s sensitivity to clothing, such as allergies.

However, if it is not related to a medical condition, an occupational therapist might look into your child’s sensory preferences.

What Can Parents Do To Help Their Kids With Autism?

There are a few things that parents can do to help their kids with autism when it comes to clothing:

Talk To Your Child About Clothes They Are Uncomfortable In

If your child is uncomfortable in a certain type of clothing, talk to them about it. Ask them why they don’t like to wear it and see if there is anything that can be done to make them more comfortable.

They might not like the design, the tag on the back, or the way the clothe makes their skin feel.

Set Expectations with Your Child about School Uniforms

If your child is required to wear a school uniform or a specifc type of clothing for school, it is important to set them clear expectations.

Before they start school, talk about going to “big school” and needing to wear school uniforms. You can try on different school uniforms prior to starting school. You might find that your child prefers one type over another, for example, shirts instead of dresses or shorts instead of pants.

Try To Find Clothes That Are Comfortable For Your Child

It is important to find clothes that are comfortable for your child. This means finding clothes that fit well, are made from soft fabrics, and allow the child to move around freely.

Have a look at the clothing composition. If your child likes those types of clothing, next time you go shopping, try and find the same types of fabrics.

Let Your Child Choose Their Own Clothes

Sensory sensitive children might feel more comfortable if they are allowed to choose their own clothes. This gives them a sense of control and can make them feel more comfortable in their clothing.

Let them choose their own clothing whenever possible.

Be Flexible With What Your Child Wears

Sometimes, parents need to be flexible with what their child wears. This might mean going with the flow and not being too strict about what the child wears.

It is important to find a balance between being too strict and being too lenient.

Do Not Force Them To Wear Clothing They Dislike

It is important to never force a child to wear clothing he or she dislikes. This will only make the child more uncomfortable and might cause them to become resistant to wearing clothes altogether.

Be Patient and Understanding

Parents need to be patient and understanding when it comes to the clothing issues faced by children with autism.

These issues can be very frustrating for both the child and the parent. Try to stay calm and positive when dealing with these problems or your child’s ability to cope with it.

Clothing can be a major issue for children with autism or problems in the sensory system, but with a little bit of patience and understanding from parents, this obstacle can be overcome.

If you are struggling to find clothes that your autistic child is comfortable in, there are many online stores that sell specialized clothing for children with autism.

Conclusion

When it comes to autism, every child is different. This means that each autistic child will have different needs when it comes to clothing. It is important for parents to be aware of the different issues that they might face when it comes to choosing clothes for their autistic child.

By being aware and educated, parents can better navigate through the clothing challenges that come with having an autistic child.

Resources

How to help children with sensory clothing issues. Cela. (n.d.). Retrieved April 1, 2022, from https://www.cela.org.au/publications/amplify!-blog/may-2021/how-to-help-children-with-sensory-clothing-issues

How to teach your child with special needs to dress independently. Performance Health. (n.d.). Retrieved April 1, 2022, from https://www.performancehealth.com/articles/how-to-teach-your-child-with-special-needs-to-dress-independently

Rudy, L. J. (2022, February 3). 3 ways to keep your autistic child from taking their clothes off. Verywell Health. Retrieved April 1, 2022, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/stop-your-child-with-autism-from-taking-his-clothes-off-260364

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