Back to school in style: Adaptive clothing for September school days

With September comes the start of a new school year. For those with children with disabilities, buying school uniform can pose a challenge.

School adaptive clothing is specially designed clothing that makes it easier for kids with disabilities or unique needs to get dressed and be comfortable throughout the school day.

These clothes need to be not only functional but also stylish, so kids can fit in with others and feel positive about how they look.
Some benefits of School Adaptive Clothing:

Easy to Put On
Adaptive clothing is designed to be super easy to put on. Having magnetic buttons or Velcro instead of tiny buttons or tricky zippers, means you can get dressed quickly and independently, providing a big confidence boost.

Comfortable All Day
Regular clothes might sometimes feel uncomfortable, particularly for those who have sensory needs. Clothing needs to be made from soft and breathable materials with fewer seams and tags that can irritate your skin, so you can be comfortable all day.

Independence
With adaptive clothing, kids with disabilities can be empowered to do things on their own. Whether it’s getting dressed, going to the bathroom, or managing their clothing during the day, it gives them more control over their daily routines.

Inclusivity
Wearing adaptive clothing helps create an inclusive and welcoming environment at school. It shows that everyone is unique and special and it’s okay to have different needs. But for many children, fitting in is important too, so having clothes that looks like other kids is also important. These days there are a wide range of cool and stylish options available. You can find adaptive jeans, t-shirts, dresses and even shoes that look just like the clothes other kids wear.
School adaptive clothing means school days can be more enjoyable and stress-free. It’s about giving children the tools to be more independent, comfortable, and stylish while they learn and grow.

Katherine Pearce, Legal Director in our Bristol team, is mother to Oliver who has cerebral palsy.

Katherine says; “My son has left hemiplegia so I am very alive to what many of my clients have to go through each year. As the summer holidays loom, so does the dread that we will be having to hunt for shoes that fit a splint and clothing without itchy labels. This year Oliver started secondary school, and with that comes ‘proper’ shirts with little buttons and knowing that he will have to change for PE, rather than go into school in his PE kit.

We found that M&S and Asda do a great and wide range of adaptable and easy-access children’s clothes. We bought school shirts with Velcro behind the buttons so getting changed for PE becomes quicker and less stressful. We also got him seamless bamboo socks which are softer, very stretchy and cooler for use with his splint.

Shopping for shoes is always a nightmare. As Oliver has grown up, we’ve tried specialist shoes for his splints, buying two pairs of shoes in different sizes so the splint can fit in the bigger shoe and we always had to find shoes with Velcro because tying laces was too difficult and frustrating for him. With his latest splint, we have been able to buy trainers in one size because we have found some that are wider at the front so the splint fits in – we bought Adidas Stan Smith, but there are other brands with a wider foot base too. They come in all black so can be worn for school. We also discovered Lock Laces® which means we have a better choice of shoe and are not reliant on Velcro fastenings – we’ve told him that triathletes use Lock Laces and he likes that!

We’ve discovered that there are actually a lot of places that have adaptive clothing for many different needs. Some of these include;

– baby joggers for hip dysplasia
– tops with feeding tube access
– jumpers with Velcro shoulder fastenings for easy on and off
– hidden labels
– higher back trousers for wheelchair users; and
– leggings with inside leg openings for easy changing.

Nike do FlyEase trainers which have a zip to allow the heel to fully open and Tommy Hilfiger have an adaptive range for adults.

It is really positive to see adaptive clothing becoming mainstream and easily accessible for those with disabilities. By fostering inclusivity, we can address the unique needs of individuals with disabilities and support independence. Adaptive clothing is an example of how we can create a more compassionate and understanding society, one that values and celebrates diversity.”

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