Cold Weather Clothing

The leaves have begun to fall and it’s time to dig out the long sleeves, pants and jackets.  For a kid who struggles with sensory processing, especially tactile defensiveness, this time of year may cause increased stress and anxiety.  For a child on the Autism spectrum or with other tactile difficulties, tags, textures and seams may cause complete meltdown. Luckily many clothing brands have recognized this difficulty and have attempted to ease the transition between seasons.   

First rule; know your child’s preference.  Some kids do better with looser clothes and some crave the deep sustained input from tighter/compression-like garments.  Are seams and tags annoying and distracting?  Texture of the garment a battle?   

Some brands to check out:

  • Cat and Jack; can be found at Target; they claim to be affordable and sensory-friendly with flat seams, no tags and easily returned if your child refuses to wear it!

  • Vineyard Vines; no tags and very soft, nice and loose.  

  • Smart Knit KIDS; provides seamless socks, underwear and shirts.  They also provide compression Ts.  (Can be found on Amazon)

  • Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive; not only do they have adaptations for “sensory friendly” but they also are inclusive for physical/motor challenges offering extended zipper pulls, magnetic buttons, side seam openings, pull-up loops, etc.   

Tips to consider: 

  • Buy more than one of your child’s favorite clothing and allow for extra time to dress in the morning.  Keep calm! Your child can sense if you are stressed and will often stress them out as well.

  • Make gradual changes.  Sometimes changing from short sleeves and shorts to long sleeves and long pants all at once is too overwhelming.  Consider introducing change slowly and steadily.  

  • Provided choices (but not too many) and lay outfits out ahead of time.  This allows the child to know what to expect for the next day and adds structure and routine.  Having the child involved in the selection process will often provide them with the control and decrease the anxiety of change or unpredictability.  

  • Talk with your OT regarding a Therapeutic Brushing Protocol.  This is not an “in the moment” tip but may definitely improve your child’s tactile sensitivity over time. 


Written by Lynne Giordano, MS OTR/L