My child is sensitive to their clothing. What can I do?

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What does clothing sensitivity look like?

You may find your child prefers not to wear any clothes, chooses shorts and a t-shirt even in the middle of winter, long sleeves and pants in summer, or may frequently complain their clothes are too hot / itchy / scratchy.

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Why do some children with Autism have clothing sensitivity?

Children with Autism may have difficulty processing sensory information. They can be over sensitive (hypersensitive) or under sensitive (hyposensitive) to things such as noise, light, movement, and touch. Their senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste) may take in too much or too little information, impacting their behaviour and emotions. Therefore, the touch of clothing can be irritable for a child hypersensitive to touch. Furthermore, children with Autism can sometimes have difficulty with temperature regulation, meaning what feels hot or cold to you, may not feel uncomfortable to your child, and visa versa.

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What can I do at home?

Tips for dressing a child who is clothing sensitive;

  • Soft clothing

    • Choose tagless clothes / remove tags, cover elastic bands, no embroidery or lumpy fabric.

    • Wash clothing multiple times to soften them before asking your child to wear it

    • Buy clothing second hand as they have already been ‘worn in’.

    • Take note of fabric types your child may tolerate, and which ones they don’t.

  • Choose the right fit

    • Take note of whether your child prefers tight clothing, or loose clothing.

    • Don’t forget about the undergarments! Socks that bunch up or have thick seams around the toes, or underwear with exposed elastic around the legs can become uncomfortable.

  • Use scent and chemical free laundry detergent

  • Let your child have some control in the dressing process - give them a choice of what clothes they can wear. If they choose a t-shirt in winter, bring a jumper with you just incase. Take note of whether your child feels temperature different to you.

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What next?

It is important to remember that every child is different, and some of the above tips may not work for your child. Contact Acorn Autism for more tips and tricks for helping children with clothing sensitivity.

It is also important to contact and consult with an Occupational Therapist experienced in working with children with sensory processing difficulties. Our team at Acorn Autism can support you and your child with all of their over and under sensitivity difficulties.

For more information on sensory processing difficulties, what it means, and how we can support you and your family, contact Acorn Autism.

Note: The above information is not meant to diagnose or treat, and should not take the place of personal consultation, as appropriate, with a qualified professional.