Clothing issues

Hi all. I'm new to the group so sorry if this has been asked before. My 10 year old daughter has a new diagnosis of autism after 7 years of struggling with her behaviour/traits etc. However we are struggling increasingly with clothing issues. Everything is too tight/scratchy etc etc  the biggest issue is underwear And dislikes anything that she has to wear. I've tried all styles of underwear and a range of sizes. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions. Specific seamless underwear are just too expensive. Please help!!

  • hello kate's mum.

    i am autistic. 

    yes, clothing. nightmare. i would much prefer to walk around completely naked and unencumbered... alas, society and british weather dictates otherwise.

    i will merely make a list of suggestions. obviously you may have already tired some, so do excuse any dulications.

    a) boys shorts - these also come in 'girls shorts' in certain retailers

    b) boys underwear in general - don't balk at the idea of crossing the gender barrier. throw away ideas about sex/gender, think like an autistic: comfort, logic

    c) customising underwear - again, think like an autistic - if it fits, its in, the bits that don't fit get cut out eg. elastic trims. *holds up example of ferret customised underwear complete with tattered edges* comfort over fashion

    d) choice - again, the autistic thinking comes into play. touch, sampling, functionality, road testing. do you allow your daughter to participate in chosing her own underwear (or other clothing) or do you merely provide eg. here you are, i bought you this... cue rejection on the basis of not being right, confrontations ensue... if this is the case, then perhaps allowing more choice and control over the underwear (and perhaps other clothing) may help in some cases. 

    e) similar to d) above when it comes to customising underwear, perhaps a more involved hands on approach would be better. possibly make it fun or an exploration eg. cut up an unused pair of underwear to get the right fit OR allow a sampling exercise of what is most scratchy to what is least scratchy material. this may achieve two things: will help identify what is really not acceptable (it could even be down to colour eg white is right, anything else isn't) and also, your daughter will feel more in control (autistics like self-determination over personal things)

    f) the outside options: does your daughter get rashes or hives or scratch? if so, explore the possibilty of washing detergents causing or exacerbating the scratchy/itchy factor. 

    general note: feeling restricted is a major problem when it comes to clothes. conversely, i wish to feel as if i'm not wearing any clothes, so sometimes something tight does work insofar as that if the material is right, then it feels right. sometimes cottons can feel very heavy and fiberous, whereas a mixture of poly-cotton does not. the finer the thread, the better the feel. silk obviously is the best, but you mention price so do not go an buy silk straight away, test first on a touch test, then try and get something closer to it eg. close weave cotton, if you can't afford silk. 

    the quality of cotton is based on two factors: weight and weave. heavy cottons will feel more scratchy. 

    note on sensitivity in general: sometimes skin cream can help alleviate the scratchy, but not always. products which are for general use tend to leave a sticky nasty sensation. again, trial and error will help and also boots the chemist are generally very good at allowing or helping customers test product in quiet areas of the shop if the need is explained. i mention this in connection with the hives/scratching issue outlined above. 

    that's all i can offer on this subject area. good luck

  • Thanks very much Ferret. Lots of advice for me, I must admit I'm finding this extremely difficult so can't imagine how my daughter feels 

  • My little daughter's "favourote outfit" is no clothes :). She finds many too scratchy or tight etc.

    Can you sew? If you can there are a few tricks:
    - if you buy briefs lightly big you can sew another seam into the side (about 1cm in) as the new seam (really basic) can be folded flat and is much softer.
    - When you take labels out either overlock the egde or add a soft patch
    - the pillowcase dress/tunic is great for summer and in winter can be worn with leggings (my small likes leggings).

    It's more difficult if fashion is important to you but these basics help us keep the everyday more low cost. 

  • Hiya Alice116.  My daughters favourite outfit is no clothes too. She refuses to wear anything on her legs so trousers, tights and leggings are a no go. She wears skirts in all weathers which is also difficult. Her body is starting to develop so that's now becoming an issue. Thanks for your advice though, much appreciated. 

  • I'm also having clothing issues of a different kind, 11 daughter causing us to worry because she is wearing way too much clothing on holiday in the tropics. She can't explain to us why she needs to wear a hoodie zipped up and full length leggings, theses items are what she wore on the lane over here( were in south east Asia). This started s few weeks ago though, the teacher called me at work to say that she won't take cardigan off and that she is holding the cuffs in her palms all day. I know there is probably a trigger for this but we can't get her to tell us why..... totally stumped with what to do and this is causing her to have meltdown.Any advice?

  • Hiya Bonsai

    I have very little advice to give, all I have learnt is that you do whatever it take to keep them happy.  Is she having a meltdown because you are trying to get her to wear something more appropriate?  If yes, then just let her wear whatever she is comfortable in however inappropriate it is. Sorry I've not been any help at all 


  • As an adult with dyspraxia/ DCD the issue of clothes is a big issue. My SD16 has the sensory issues of temperature insensitivity so wears lots of layers as does Bonsai's daughter.

    On clothing that itches

    The big thing is seam free and encased elastic. Bamboo, cotton and silk are good options. Merino can be a bit hit or miss.

    On kids wearing layers: start deodorant early and do social stories. We struggle because SD16s bio-mother is not reinforcing the message so she only gets reinforcement with us. Have several hoodies and leggings that are acceptable and get her changing daily (or more frequently). Get GP to prescribe Vitamin D. 

    I've found SD16 will agree to try new things as long as they are covering. Her birthday/Christmas presents from me will include a very lightweight hoodie made with enclosed seams. I'm just hunting out fabric. Also looking into a light trouser pattern

  • Hi I feel your pain my son is 4 and all he wants to wear is shorts in this freezing cold weather , if it not shorts he is naked most of the time in the house -Lucy