Benefits of Sensory Friendly Clothing for Children with SPD & Autism
The world can be a harsh place to navigate for any individual. With technology evolving at such a rapid pace, we're exposed to more sights and sounds and sensory stimuli than ever before. This can take a toll on anyone, but no one feels the effects more than children with SPD and autism. Too much stimulation can be completely overwhelming for these children and lead to meltdowns, poor mental health, and increased stress.
Many people don't think much about the clothes they wear each day. We use clothing as a means of self-expression, but we often don't put a lot of thought into the fabric and how it feels against our skin. However, fabric is one of the most important parts of a sensory-sensitive child's life. When their clothes will be pressing and rubbing up against their sensitive skin all day, they need to have a pleasant tactile sensation.
Sensory friendly clothes are clothes that have been designed specifically for those with sensory issues. For example, seamless socks are great for children who struggle with the feeling of a lumpy sock seam rubbing against their ankles. Clothes without raised elastic bands can be great for kids who don't like the feeling of the bands pinching or rubbing. Compression t-shirts gently compress the body and can feel like a warm hug when a child is overwhelmed.
Compression clothing acts in the same way a weighted blanket does for autistic children and children with SPD. Weight is a way of grounding them and helping them to reconnect with the world around them. Compression clothing should never be so tight that it hurts or interferes with breathing. But it can help children to calm down and feel safe.
When children with autism or SPD are exposed to sensory friendly clothes, their stress levels often decrease from a lack of agitation caused by normal clothing. It can be exhausting to constantly be rearranging clothing or feeling it rub uncomfortably against parts of your body. Sensory overload is a lot to deal with on a day-to-day basis without bringing clothing into it for children with these conditions.
A big benefit of sensory friendly clothing, especially compression clothing, is that it helps children to feel safe. Safety is one of the most important things to letting children have a healthy childhood and development. It's also extremely important when it comes to school. A child's performance in school will be greatly increased when they're not constantly focused on the discomfort of their clothes or fiddling with their clothes in an attempt to make themselves more comfortable.
Sensory problems don't just "go away." And children aren't being dramatic when they're uncomfortable in their clothing. Autistic children and children with SPD benefit from having their sensory issues accommodated. These accommodations work much better to reduce stress than trying to train children not to have sensory issues. The more comfortable children are in their skin, the more their mental health will improve and the better they'll perform in all areas of their life.
It's important to get the child's feedback on the clothes they wear. Sometimes autistic children and children with SPD are nonverbal, but they still visibly react to the feeling of different fabrics. Every person's sensory issues are different. What one person may find to be a soothing texture, another may find it to be deeply uncomfortable. Figuring out which fabrics feel best is a case-by-case study.