Arguments for and against wearing school uniforms have raged since time immemorial. From ‘reducing peer pressure’ and ‘improving focus’ to ‘stifling individuality’ and ‘unaffordable cost for parents’, there’s no doubt that there are both pros and cons for uniforms.
For parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), however, the list of ‘cons’ is never-ending. That’s because, in addition to the usual gripes that children may have with wearing school uniforms, children with ASD have their own specialised, individual issues with it.
Meta Auden, founder of Spectra Sensory Clothing explained: “If you’re a parent of a child with ASD, you’ll be only too aware of how many problems your child can experience with regard to clothing, let alone the additional problems posed by having to wear a school uniform.
“Your child may, for example, have a sensitivity to certain materials and labels. School uniforms may throw up a raft of extra problems, such as washing labels, itchy materials and seams. We recently heard of one child, who repeatedly developed a patch on her neck, which seemed to arise from wearing her school polo shirt. She has now become so sensitive to even the sight of the polo shirt that she is refusing to go to school
“Perhaps you have a child, who only wants to wear jogging pants and T-shirts? How do you persuade them to wear a shirt and more ‘formal’ trousers?
“Or maybe your child isn’t toilet trained when they first start school? Then you’re faced with the dilemma of how to fit nappies under traditional school trousers: trousers which, as you know, he won’t tolerate in the slightest anyway.”
According to Meta, the same goes for if you have a daughter, who refuses to wear the regulation skirt. How do you circumvent this issue?
The answer to many of the problems created by school uniforms can lie in a sensory clothing range, which also offers school uniform items: items which look like traditional uniforms, but have the added advantage of providing the most comfort and least sensory irritation to your child.
These items contain special features, which may be the answer to your prayers:
If your child is affected by certain types of material, for example, a sensory school clothing range can enable your child to wear soft clothing items, such as a T-shirt, under their school clothes as a ‘barrier’ to calm any potential irritation caused by the school items
Autism-friendly socks, meanwhile, are completely seamless, therefore removing the need for your child to itch and scratch at seams throughout the school day
Necklines on tops and shirts may also be worn inside or out, enabling your child to wear the top whichever way feels most comfortable to them and removing any potential embarrassment about having their T-shirt on ‘the wrong way round’.
Shirt collars may have ‘soft collars’ for maximum comfort and may come with imitation buttons, meaning that your child can put the shirt on over their head instead of having to struggle with buttons.
“As a parent of a child with ASD, you’ll be only too aware of how difficult it is for your child to concentrate and focus for long periods of time” said Meta, “You want them to get the most out of their education and school experience – not having them spending the whole school day focussing on the discomfort and distress caused by what they’re wearing.”
For many families sensory clothing may provide both they and their child with peace of mind.
Find out more about Spectra Sensory’s uniform options at spectrasensoryclothing.co.uk/product-category/school-uniform