January 15, 2024
Autism & Sensory Friendly Winter Clothing
Snug and stretchy clothing will find your child feeling calm and comfortable
Are you struggling to get your child with sensory issues to don all that wonderful winter clothing that will keep them warm when they play outside?
Here’s a tip: Make winter clothing items more tolerable through desensitization and careful attention to textures and tightness.
There are a lot of adaptive cold weather clothing options for children with SPD or autism. Here are some items to consider to help sensory kids stay comfortable through the winter months:
Base layers. Your child can wear shirts and pants they love as a base layer, which means favorite clothing items will create a barrier between the skin and any potentially scratchy materials. Alternatively, try long underwear as a base layer to prevent your child from feeling too restricted.
Compression garments. Many sensory kids love compression shirts, shorts, and pants regardless of the season. Compression shirts are also a great alternative base layer in the winter. There are several companies that offer wide varieties of compression clothing for sensory kids.
Weighted clothing. To help your child feel cozy and comfortable, try weighted clothing. Weighted clothing feels like the child is receiving a hug and helps promote body awareness and focus.
Soft materials. Try to purchase clothing made from soft, lightweight materials. Fleece or terry cloth are perfect for children with sensory sensitivities, as the fabrics are warm and move with the body. Look for winter clothes made with cotton or that otherwise have a soft texture. Avoid wool or other potentially itchy fabrics.
Seamless socks. If your child needs sensory socks, seamless socks are the way to go. Use them as either a base layer sock or on their own.
Easy-to-use garments. Consider whether your child is more comfortable zipping coats or buttoning them, as this will make a big difference in getting your child to put on a jacket when it is cold outside! If you aren’t sure, go shopping together and try on different jacket styles.
Fun Shapes. Who says mittens and hats have to look a certain way? For example, fluffy, colorful fleece gloves keep children toasty and stop them from scratching themselves. Make fall and winter wear exciting by finding fun clothes.
Won’t wear mittens? Hand warmer packets kept in the pockets can help keep hands from getting frost nip, at least when they’re in the child’s pockets! You might also massage the child’s head and hands before she puts on a hat or mittens. Light vibration from a hand-held vibrator or even a vibrating toy or toothbrush may work to desensitize her skin as well, allowing her to handle the sensation of clothing against these parts of the body.
Have backups available. If your children have winter clothes they love, buy duplicates if you are able. The winter season will go a lot more smoothly if you don’t have to worry about getting out the door without the clothes your children enjoy wearing most.
Some info from Sunny Days Sunshine Center