One of the fun parts of being a mom is getting to shop for her babies. I loved choosing between soft and softer tees and adorable sweaters for my boys! Now, building Alex’s wardrobe was relatively easy since he’s always up for the simple and clean versions of things, just like many kids on the autism spectrum. However, there are important considerations I always have to keep in mind when shopping because of his numerous sensitivities and motor skills. And here are a few of my steps and considerations on building wardrobe for boys:
1. Involve boys in wardrobe building choices
It is never early to start building a sense of style and learning to have fun with it. Looking good is always a good thing! Plus, given that children with autism have troubles with motor skills (some more, some less) and color and texture sensitivities, I always consider the limitations when shop for Alex’s clothes.
When I can, I try not to drag Alex to stores shopping with me. Within minutes he gets ‘bored’ and wants to go home. Only when Alex goes through a transitional period in his taste, sensitivities, and motor skills, or when he changes shoe sizes, we will make quick trips together. I show him a few kinds, styles, and colors to choose from, try on, and make his picks. In all other cases, I go alone, and then let Alex try on things at home. If he doesn’t like something or it doesn’t work, I return it. It maybe an extra step, but it helps both of us to avoid an unpleasant experience.
2. Choose the textures, colors, and themes.
When I look for basics, I always go for neutral colors, black, white, brown, and blue. There is something so chic when we wear these understated colors. Then I add a little bit of fun to the mix, a couple of bright colors, like red, orange, or yellow. Now, all colors have to be Alex approved. Kids on autism spectrum often have color, texture, tag, and stitches sensitivities. I heard quite a few times that some kids on the spectrum can’t stand yellow color. Once again, to avoid possible tantrums and refusals to wear close I spend money on, I always involve Alex in the decision making process. Finally, if he wants, we pick stripes or plaid or other theme patterns to add to the mix. For a couple of years Alex was quite obsessed with minecraft (and some other kids I know are obsessed with angry birds and so on), so these themes had to find their way into the closet, just a couple, though.
Also, I have my own fashion taste and opinions, it doesn’t always agree with Alex’s, and as hard as it sometimes may be, I have to respect his choices of colors and style and never override his choices with mine. I made an expensive mistake once by buying him Hunter rain boots over his objections. Alex worn them once and never again. He was very annoyed at how they felt and I had no choice but to keep them in his closet just to look pretty. Eventually, I will have to give them away.
3. Consider the level of your child’s motor skills
Many kids on autism spectrum have different motor skills abilities. For example, for a long time I couldn’t find time and patience to teach Alex tie his shoes and usually remember that when his laces would get untied in a public place. Squatting to tie his shoes was no trouble for me when he was little, but one thing tying shoe lace when the kid is two, and one thing when the kid is ten. So for a while I would avoid shoes with lace at all cost. But after kid size 3, I had much harder time finding shoes with velcro closure instead of the lace ties. That finally forced us to address the issue and teach him how to tie his shoe. Sometimes, though, even after working hard on learning the skills, kids on autism spectrum still have difficulties with shoe laces, zippers, or buttons. And that should be definitely part of consideration when you select your kid’s clothes, because the ability to dress independently is a very important one for them.
4. Once you find what brand or style works, stick with them
When I find something that Alex is comfortable with and wears well, I buy it in all colors of his choice, thermals and tees especially. And when he grows out of them, I just buy more of the same. Since these are usually wardrobe basics, the stores keep bringing them back year after year. I also do the same for shoes. I mean if I find Alex liking some particular pair of shoes, when worn out, I just buy another pair. For example, Alex loves his Adidas slippers and is already on his third pair.
Some suggest that if we find what works, we should buy the next size up too, but I prefer not to. A good fit matters a lot for comfort and look, and I don’t mean just shoes and pants, but also tees and thermals. Sometimes the next size up may not be a good fit when kids outgrow their old stuff. And Alex, for example, gets very annoyed when sleeves are too long and especially when they are too loose.
Do you have any tips and considerations on building wardrobe for boys? Please share!
♡ Zuma A.