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How To Choose Clothing for Children with Special Needs
Special Children have Special Needs
Keeping up with clothing needs of children is challenging, and special needs children have unusual clothing needs. Depending on specific disabilities or health problems, clothing should be interesting and uncomplicated to put on.
Clothing for children with special needs should be:
appealing to the child
targeted to age
appropriate for the child's skills
designed to increase independence
easy to put on and take off
non-restrictive to allow freedom of movement
easy to care for
Finding clothing that meets all or most of these characteristics can be difficult. Making a list with the features and requirements needed, can make the shopping trip less stressful and more enjoyable.
What To Buy:
Don't pick garments because you like the looks of them, instead, keep the child's comfort in mind. Don't buy articles that can become tangled in medical equipment, as these could cause your child to fall or be injured. Try to get clothing that fits well, but keep in mind that children grow quickly. Don't spend an outlandish amount on outfits that might be worn only once, like holiday apparel.
Selections that have lumpy seams or can press on body areas are not, usually, wise choices. Instead opt for something that can spark the child's interest, such as embroidered motifs. Select colors that are pleasing to a child, remember bright colors call attention and dark colors camouflage, and prints or patterns can hide dirt and stains.
Elastic waistbands and cuffs may be warmer, but should not be overly tight against the skin. If medical tubes are a concern, stick to shirts that button up the front, or pants that have pocket openings. Terrycloth and cotton fabrics are good choices, if drooling is a problem.
Two-piece warm up suits are comfortable, warm and easy to wear if the child needs uses a wheelchair. Ponchos can eliminate struggling with coats or sweaters, and leg warmers and fuzzy foot covers can be easier to deal with than snow pants.
Fabrics are constructed with many different fibers. Clothing can be woven, knitted, shiny, thin, thick, or waterproof. Avoid choosing scratchy or slick fabrics; Clothing should feel good against a child's skin.
If wrinkles are of concern, knit fabrics stretch and wrinkle less. Denim, corduroy, and flannel are durable, and can conceal braces because they don't cling. However, shiny fabrics tend to emphasize body irregularities.
If you live in a cold climate, clothing made from fleece, quilted material, or napped fabrics maintain a good level of body heat and are comfortable.
If you like certain brands, choosing an item from the same company will, probably, suit your child's needs. If a child is able get dressed alone, shirts with back or shoulder openings may be good choices. Tiny buttons are difficult if the child has limited dexterity. Of course, Velcro is the easiest when you want to made dressing and undressing less difficult.
Before You Shop:
Reviewing magazines and catalogs that offer clothing for special needs children can give you ideas and helpful information. If the child is able to express their preferences, have them look at the catalogs with you. If the child is able to travel, taking them along on the shopping trip will get them out and let them make some choose on some clothing.
Caring For Clothing:
Read clothing labels closely, as some materials are not washable, others can only be laundered by hand, and still others must be dry-cleaned. Pay attention to the characteristics of the fabric, such as shrinkage, colorfast, and flammable qualities.
Children with special needs can learn to dress and undress themselves if their clothing is not too restraining. Selecting clothing that have large openings, Velcro fasteners and simple pull-on pants can help your child to become independent. Children with special needs can master getting dressed, but it will require patience and encouragement.