Tuesday 16 November 2021

Adapting to winter clothes

Girl with coat and back pack

Half-term is over, and the darkness is here with the inevitable drop in temperatures.  It's time for the winter wardrobe.

For school, winter uniforms can feel different.  For girls there's often ties, shirts, skirts or trousers, and even tights which create 'crumples and lines' as my youngest would say.  Boys might move into trousers and then there is all the wet weather gear to cope with too.  

At home we've the move to adding sweaters, wearing slippers inside and boots outside. We've got two main things we do to help with the transition to and maximise the comfort of the kids winter clothes, and the first is the thing we do for everything. 

Prepare them  

Many kids with autism or ADHD don't like dealing with change.  It can cause extreme anxiety when something is suddenly different, even if the change is a good one.  We have a definite deadline to change from summer to winter uniforms.  All our kids had to be in their winter school uniform before they went back after the autumn half term.   So, we can help them prepare for this change by letting them know when it is going to happen, and making them familiar with the winter version of their uniform before hand.

One of the easiest ways is to have the same uniform.  It can help it feel familiar.  Ours often looks faded but a new wash can help brighten and clean the uniform so it's ready for after half term.  Where we use a chew or sensory aid, this can be transferred easily making another familiar addition.  We've had Chewigem's in the same colour as the kids uniform so they blend in well.

Our kids can be involved in putting the parts of summer wardrobes 'away' and taking the new parts of their winter clothes out.  Jane doesn't like things disappearing without knowing where they've gone.  We need to let her know what happens to old toys or furniture when it's time for them to go to into the loft, someone else or the charity shop.  It's the same with her clothes and physically putting them away can help.

A countdown board or calendar showing the days and their associated clothes can help some kids understand when they will be expected to wear different clothes.  This can mentally prepare them and we find that simply knowing when a change is going to happen can relieve some of the anxiety around it.  

If they have out grown any of their winter clothes since they last wore it and / or you've purchased new items for them, then give them the time to get used to these. We wash them a few times so they feel more like what they remember.  We have any new items out or try them on in advance so it doesn't feel completely foreign the first time they are put on.

Make clothes as comfortable as possible 

Jane loved her free flowing summer dress and ankle socks but for many kids with autism or sensory processing challenges, the change to restrictive winter clothes can be extremely uncomfortable. Anthony used to say the tags in his clothes felt like he was being stabbed by spikes  and that when his clothes were crunched up around his waist it felt like he was wearing tin foil.  Coats often have hanging tags on them and we'll avoid these or cut them out - they all hang up via their hoods in our home.  

Seamless clothing can make a huge difference to our kids. Both Jane and Anthony have used some seamless items.

Jane in particular has bamboo socks and tights with smooth toe seams and comfort cuffs and waist bands.  She always really struggled with the tight feeling she got around her calves when she wore knee high school socks.   Her tights have flatlocked seams on the inside and the waist band is a big elasticated honeycomb.  They look like regular smooth tights but are also smooth against her skin and soft against her waist.    Her scrunchy skirt waist band can then sit on top and not be so uncomfortable. 

A vest can also help Anthony avoid the scrunchy feeling of his trousers too. This can also be helpful if they feel the cold with some particular vests offering extra warmth.   Sometimes my kids end up over heating when they run around outside with all their warm clothes on so it's important they know how to remove their hats, undo etc or can ask for help.  Our eldest, who is now a teenager, also stays comfortable by using a great roll on deodorant designed for kids with sensitive skin called Pit Stop which we'd recommend to. 

If you know of anything else that works, please let us know. 

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