Dress to Impress

It is my personal belief that the way you present yourself can really have an impact on how people perceive you. I am not saying by any means that judging a book by its cover is a good thing, but I feel that it is something that is naturally ingrained in most people to do. How we dress can be a big factor in all that. When you have an autistic child who has sensory issues associated with clothing, dressing appropriately or for the occasion can be difficult at times. So, what can we do to help them look their best?

  1. Start Young

If I could only go back and tell myself this piece of advice with so many things pertaining to my autistic boys. The fact is that kids really get used to things from a young age; routine, eating, clothing, you name it. I’m not saying that this is a fool proof method and you will have zero pushback, but the more they are introduced to different feelings in clothing early on, the easier it will be later. We always pushed our boys to dress nice for school. Nice being at least jeans and a nice top. His kindergarten teacher even nicknamed him the professor because he had glasses at that time and we would often dress him in nice sweaters. Nice doesn’t have to mean expensive or overdressed. Just make sure to change it up a bit and don’t let them wear comfy sweat pants every day of the week. Wearing things with buttons and zippers will also help give those kiddos some good OT practice which can be a big struggle for many kids on the spectrum as well.


  1. Adaptive Options

There are so many companies out there that do a great job recognizing our friends with special needs. There are multiple clothing lines available that offer a variety of very cute clothing options not only for kids with sensory issues to clothing but far beyond that as well! There are clothes to help those with visual impairments, for kids in wheelchairs, kids with feeding tubes, and the list goes on. Here is a great article I came across that lists off a few of the brands that offer adaptive clothing options.


  1. Comfy but nice

Don’t have access, don’t like the price, or just have something else in mind besides adaptive clothing, but want your child to look nice? You can always just make due with being choosy about what you buy. Knowing their particular issues on what exactly about the clothing bothers your child can help you decide what items to stay away from, or what areas you may be able to slowly work on. Even though we have always had Damion wear jeans, he still has trouble with snaps, so I make sure to always buy pants that have a bit of stretch to the waistband so he can still pull them up at school without requiring assistance. Thankfully with internet shopping there is the potential to find just about anything you are looking for.

Wearing “dress” clothes seems to be continuously going out of style these days, especially when you look at the younger generations. Picking my kids up from school I see more kids in sweatpants than in jeans. In some ways today’s trends can be great for kids on the spectrum who have sensory issues with clothes, that is until they come to an occasion where wearing sweatpants is not an option. This is not a situation you want to fall into. We were fortunate that we just happened to like dressing our boys very nice from a young age, so our sensory pushback has been somewhat mild for the most part on the clothing front. We still have plenty of OT struggles with getting dressed and mastering snaps and zippers but we continue to work on those items as well. Whether you choose to work through the clothing issues a little at a time or decide that looking into other alternative options is better for you, just know you do have options and ways to help your kids overcome any hurdles and be dressed to look their best no matter the occasion.