How To Choose Clothing For Children With Severe Autism

This article is mommy approved by Miriam Slozberg, mother of twoOpens in a new tab..

Many children and adults on the autism spectrum have sensory problems, whereas bright lights and loud sounds bother them, certain textures of food, and many smells bother them, as well as many materials of clothing. Kids with all functioning levels of autism can have sensory issues.

However, in regards to severe autism, those who are impacted by it will struggle with sensory issues the most.  

It is straight forward enough to keep kids with severe autism in places that are dimly lit or that don’t have bright lighting. It is also straight forward enough to give kids that are severely impacted foods that don’t have textures that will bother them, such as avoiding to provide them with foods such as yogurt or peanut butter.

However, it can be quite challenging to find the right type of clothing for children that are severely impacted by autismOpens in a new tab. in addition to managing sensory issues that are related. Let’s go over the nine tips on how to choose the right clothing for kids with severe autism as well as how to manage sensory problems.  

Materials Matter 

The key is when you are looking for clothing for children with severe autism that have profound sensory issues, you want to get clothing that is soft, light, breathable, and that has a soothing textureOpens in a new tab.. Materials such as fleece and cotton are good options.

However, the only difficulty is that not all kids that are severely impacted will take well even to the most recommended materials for clothing. Fabrics that do not bother one child with autism may irritate another child.  

Most children with severe autism are nonverbal and cannot tell you if they are bothered by the clothes they are wearing. If they have meltdowns while tugging on their clothes, then that is a sign that they are not taking to the clothing well.  

Think Tagless And Seamless 

Clothing with seams and tags Opens in a new tab.are significant sensory triggers for children and adults on the autism spectrum, especially if they are on the severe end. This is why, for instance, it is essential to get socks that do not have seams.

Otherwise, if you get socks that are not seamless for the kids, they will not wear them. They will keep taking it off and will not care that the floor is too cold to walk on in their bare feet. They do not like how the seams feel.  

The same applies to clothes, especially shirts or sweaters that have tags. Finding tagless shirts can be a challenge unless you go to an outlet or distributor that sells explicitly sensory-friendly clothing, which is recommended.

If you find a fleece or cotton shirt that seems to be the right fit for the child but has tags at the back, you can pull it away to the point that no trace of the label is left. Be careful when removing it away that the thread does not come apart, which can ruin the shirt.  

Compression Clothing Helps Soothe Kids That Are Severely Impacted By Autism 

You are aware of how weighted blanketsOpens in a new tab. are helpful to children that have autism, ADHD, and other sensory processing disorders. The same applies when it comes to compression clothing, such as undershirts. The pressure from the compression clothing provides a calming mechanism for children that are affected. The key is to make sure the garment is soft, and that stretches well. 

Buttons, Elastics, Collars, Cuffs Are Not Recommended 

Clothing that has buttons, elastic waists, collars, or cuffs will not be tolerated at all by children that are severely impacted by autism. Those are substantial sensory triggers for them. With that said, you only want to get everyday clothing, and if they are stretchy, make sure that they do not have elastic bands.  

Your Child Should Try Clothing On Before Purchasing 

It may be difficult for parents to take children with severe autism to department or clothing stores because of how they are full of sensory triggers, which will bring on a meltdownOpens in a new tab.. However, there are plenty of online stores that sell clothing that you can have tried on before committing to them.

If the child seems to be comfortable with the dress, then you can invest and make the purchase. If not, you can always return it. And if a child seems to like a particular piece of clothing, then be sure to get multiples of the same.  

Consider Sensory Integration Therapy 

Kids that are profoundly impacted by autism and that have severe sensory issues will always struggle. However, through sensory integration therapyOpens in a new tab., the effects of the triggers can be less overwhelming to the child.

This form of therapy can help improve the child’s sensory processing by getting them involved in certain activities which can help rewire the brain. Some activities can involve them playing in a ball pit or sitting on different textures such as on a bin that contains dry rice.  

Brushing Therapy 

Another way to help a child’s sensory processing improve is through brushing therapy. The type of brush to be used appears as a surgical brush. It needs to be firmly pressed against the child’s skin to brush the entire body for 2 minutes daily.  

Consider Putting The Child On A Sensory Diet 

This has nothing to do with what to give the child to eatOpens in a new tab.. A sensory dietOpens in a new tab. means that you provide activities for the child that will allow them to fulfill their sensory needs. For instance, if the child has a tremendous amount of energy to the point of not being able to sit at all, then the child should be allowed to jump on the trampoline. This will help them manage their sensory issues in the long run.  

Detergent Matters 

The detergent that you are using to wash your child’s clothes may be a considerable trigger as it may not be ideal for anyone with skin sensitivities, or it has a strong fragrance. It is best to stick to unscented detergents and that are meant to be used to wash clothing worn by those with skin sensitivities.  

Children with severe autism are more likely to have severe sensory processing disorders, which means they will not handle types of clothing such as the materials and how it is made. However, by sticking to sensory-friendly clothing in addition to providing the best variety of therapies to help them manage the sensory issues, fewer meltdowns will end up resulting. In addition to that, they will be more cooperative with wearing clothing. 

How To Choose Clothing For Children With Severe Autism

Miriam Slozberg is a Canadian author, blogger, and mom to 2 kids. One had combined autism and ADHD. After years of trialing different forms of therapy, she learned how to best support her son. She writes on publications such as She also is a mental health advocate as she lives with ADHD and has experienced depression.


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