Why Autism really isn’t that fashionable.

Yep, it’s that time of year. The time I dread as it slowly approaches and swallows me up with its dark mornings and cosy nights (which I actually love). Autumn is starting to show its face, and whilst it’s actually my favourite season, I can’t say I’m happy about it. Why? Because colder and wetter weather means kiddo needs to wear more clothes. Not just extra layers, but different materials such as waterproofs and fleece etc. And it is a nightmare.

Kiddo (as most children on the spectrum are) is extremely sensitive to clothing. I’m not just talking about the irritating niggle of an itch that the lables can cause you. He finds it painful. Physically painful to wear certain materials and certain weights of clothes. When summer comes its such a relief! Just shorts and one t shirt to contend with! The getting dressed routine in the morning is no longer an endless struggle. But even when the summer starts I know what’s coming, so I start to build up my reserves from the very start of the hot sunny season (which includes tonnes of rain in the U.K., obvs) and tell myself to enjoy this time so that my patience can have time to rest until the leaves begin to fall. And here we are yet again. The autumn is upon us.

My first struggle tends to be jumpers. That additional layer over a long sleeved t-shirt is not welcomed by kiddo. The t-shirt sleeves become ruffled, they rub against his skin. Who would have thought that a single soft cotton jumper would cause him pain? All his jumpers must have a zip up the front so should he need to, he is able to escape quickly. If you’ve ever seen this it often reminds me of those magicians who are wrapped in locked chains and they have to get themselves free. Frantically pulling and yanking their arms every which way? Yep, that’s kiddo. When he needs the jumper off, he needs it off. Now. So all jumpers that we attempt must be soft cotton, with a zip up front. Shall we move on to colours? 

So kiddo cannot tolerate any patterns on his clothes. No pictures of any kind, no slogans, letters or numbers. No pictures of Thomas the tank etc. So firstly they must be plain garments. Secondly, they cannot be bright colours. On a good day he can tolerate red, maybe a royal blue. But anything else bright is an absolute no go. Such clothes will produce shrieking of “All done!!” before I have even managed to get the item of clothing fully out of the drawer. At least he lets me know in advance I suppose? Why? Because these clothes cause visual overload. Kiddo is already working so hard to take in the sights and sounds of the world around him, he can’t take in what  signals his clothes are giving off too.

So, so far we have:

1. All clothes must be a soft cotton (and that’s all clothes)

2. All jumpers must zip up at the front

3. The colours must be dull and not bright

4. They must have absolutely no patterns on them 

So you can imagine my joy at clothes shopping. Bypassing all the cute and adorable outfits and heading straight to the multipacks, praying that this season the colours aren’t too bright. Pyjamas are a particular nightmare as they often come in packs of two. One pair is nice and plain, the other bright and usually luminous for some reason. Perhaps manufacturers think you will lose your child in the dark of the nighttime? Who knows… it’s a mystery. But a mystery that hits my purse hard as I’m always left with one pair of pjs that are completely useless to me. Moving on…

What does no typical shop chain or manufacturer assume your child will be wearing once they are 5? Nappies. There’s simply no room for Nappies. Literally. Kiddo is large for his age so is already in age 5 clothes. All of a sudden the lovely little bit of extra room around his derrière has disappeared. Getting trousers on him is now an art, especially as if I irritate him too much, or take too long, he won’t wear them.  There are clothing ranges for children with additional needs, but I’ll need to wait for my lottery win to cover that one (see previous blog on the cost of being a carer). 

So as Autumn approaches I slowly mooch round the shops while kiddo is in school, depressingly passing by this seasons new outfits and whispering to myself how cute they are. I spend literally hours online trawling through websites to see if I can find the plainest of plain clothes. But I don’t mind, if it’s what kiddo needs I’ll spend 24 hours a day doing it until I succeed.

So over the next few weeks you may see us out and about with kiddo in some not so weather appropriate outfits, please don’t think I’m ignorant of my child’s needs. I don’t let him stay outside in inappropriate clothing for long, just to get him from A to B. Someone once said we should have signs for our children that say “this child was offered weather appropriate clothing”. Genius idea. Do it lady, I’ll buy one tomorrow. 

And if it’s your birthday party coming up, and you have kindly invited kiddo, please don’t think we aren’t making an effort when he turns up in very plain outfits (they look even less inspiring next to glittery dresses, chinos and shirts). We are making a huge effort to even make it out the house to attend, and we are so so grateful for your invite.

So when you’re shopping for your little ones and picking such beautiful and adorable clothing, take a minute to feel grateful that they feel comfortable in such items. For their life is already remarkably easier than that of my darling kiddo.

Thanks for reading,

Danielle 

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