Clothing for young children with disabilities is selected for the same reasons that all children’s clothing is selected: cuteness, comfort and cost. All parents want practical clothing that protects their child’s comfort and function, and some clothing is appropriate for most children regardless of their disability status. For example, non-slip soles on shoes, slippers and socks will protect children who walk from some of their tumbles.Adaptive clothing is available for children of all ages. This clothing allows children with health-related disabilities to look and act like kids while using heart monitors and indwelling medical devices such as central lines, ostomy bags and catheters.Children who wear orthotics will sit more comfortably when their pants are designed with a wide inseam. Choose pants that have an artfully constructed, invisible zipper on the inside of each pant leg. The zipper should extend from the bottom of the pant leg to approximately two inches above the knee, to help with the placement and removal of the orthotic.
Jackets that are cut to hip length will be more comfortable for children who use wheelchairs. Armholes that are wider than usual, and zippers that are longer than usual, can make a jacket more accessible for parents who need to help with clothing adjustments.
Before young children are able to dress themselves, closures are most helpful to parents when tiny hands can’t undo them. Look for zippers and Velcro closures in the back of clothing. For older children with disabilities, fashionable buttons can be placed on a panel of fabric that covers a Velcro opening/closure in the front or back. Elasticized cuffs on winter coats and jackets can help parents to pull a child’s arm through.
During summer, your child can learn to swim in bathing suits that are designed to contain bladder and bowel “accidents” for young children and children with spinal cord injury. Swim trunks for boys are designed so that they can be pulled up or wrapped around the child. Some swim trunks are designed so that the waist and leg opening can be adjusted for individual fit. Girl swimsuits with halter tops will comfortably keep the top of a pretty swim suit up without requiring the dexterity necessary for ties.