A stack of blue clothes indicates that this piece is about autism and clothes.

Autism and Clothes: Getting Dressed & Keeping Clothes On

When it comes to autism and clothes, children with autism may face unique challenges related to clothing due to sensory sensitivities, difficulties with motor skills, challenges with decision-making, and preferences for routine and familiarity (the need for sameness). These challenges can affect getting dressed and the tendency to keep clothes on throughout the day. Many develop coping strategies, such as wearing the same type of clothes or colors and ensuring a sensory-friendly fit by trying on clothes before purchasing​​.

At Blue Parachute, we understand how some things might not seem difficult, including getting dressed and a child keeping their clothes on. For example, for parents of children who are not on the spectrum, keeping their children dressed might be a simple task. Parents and caregivers of children with ASD understand that even the simplest of tasks can, at times, be complex.

Understanding and accommodating an autistic individual’s clothing preferences and sensitivities are crucial for their comfort and well-being. This might involve creating a supportive environment for choosing clothes, exploring sensory-friendly clothing options, and employing strategies to make the dressing process less stressful.​ For more information about autism and clothes, including getting dressed and keeping clothes on, continue reading below.

Is Clothing Sensitivity a Sign of Autism?

Clothing sensitivity can be a sign of autism, as sensory issues are common among individuals on the autism spectrum. That doesn’t mean that every child or person with such a sensitivity is on the spectrum.

Why Is My Autistic Child Taking His Clothes Off?

For those on the spectrum with clothing sensitivities, these can manifest as both hypersensitivity (over-responsiveness) and hyposensitivity (under-responsiveness) to various stimuli, including tactile sensations related to clothing. Autistic individuals might find certain fabrics, tags, seams, or the tightness of clothing uncomfortable or unbearable, leading to challenges with getting dressed and keeping clothes on​​.

Getting Dressed

Getting dressed can be a complex task for children with autism for several reasons.

Sensory Sensitivities

Many children with autism are highly sensitive to textures, tags, seams, and the tightness of clothing. This can make the sensation of certain fabrics or fits uncomfortable or even unbearable, leading to resistance when getting dressed.

Motor Skills

Difficulties with fine and gross motor skills can make manipulating buttons, zippers, and other fasteners frustrating and challenging, affecting the child’s ability to dress independently.

Preference for Sameness

A strong preference for routine and familiarity may lead children with autism to insist on wearing the same clothes repeatedly, resisting changes in clothing due to seasonal shifts or when clothing needs washing.

Keeping Clothes On

Children with autism might struggle to keep their clothes on for a few key reasons.

Sensory Overload

If clothing is perceived as uncomfortable, removing it can be a way to reduce sensory overload. This can lead to situations where a child might undress at times deemed inappropriate.

Difficulty Communicating Discomfort

For some children, taking off their clothes might be a way to communicate their discomfort or a need that they cannot articulate in other ways, such as being too hot, itchy, or restricted.

Autism Clothing Issues

Autism clothing issues can encompass a wide range of concerns, from the challenges mentioned above in getting dressed and keeping clothes on to difficulties in accepting new or different types of clothing due to changes in texture, weight, or appearance.

There are anti-strip clothing options designed specifically for children with autism to address the challenge of keeping clothes on. These garments often have features such as back zippers, inaccessible fastenings, or designs that make it difficult for the wearer to remove clothes independently. The goal is to provide comfort and maintain dignity while preventing undressing in inappropriate situations.

Sensory Clothing for Autism

Managing clothing sensitivities involves several strategies tailored to the individual’s needs. Offering choices between different textures or fits, allowing for extra time during dressing routines, and choosing sensory-friendly clothing can help minimize discomfort.

Sensory-friendly clothing is designed to address the specific sensory aversions some autistic individuals experience​​ and to minimize discomfort for individuals with sensory sensitivities. Features of sensory-friendly clothing can include:

  • Soft, Natural Fabrics: Materials are chosen for their softness and comfort against the skin, often avoiding synthetic fabrics that may trigger sensory discomfort.

  • Seamless or Flat-Seam Construction: These garments are made without bulky seams or have flat-seam construction to prevent irritation. The goal is for them to feel less intrusive.

  • Tagless Labels: Replacing traditional tags with printed labels or removing them altogether to avoid itching and discomfort.

  • Easy-to-Use Fasteners: Incorporating Velcro, magnetic closures, or simplified buttons and zippers can assist with dressing independently.

Both anti-strip and sensory clothing for autism are designed with the dual goals of addressing the unique sensory needs and preferences of individuals with autism while promoting independence in dressing and daily activities.

Learn More About Autism and Clothes With Blue Parachute

Navigating the world of clothing with an autistic child presents a unique set of challenges, from sensory sensitivities to the need for routine and sameness. At Blue Parachute, we’re committed to providing comprehensive support for families facing these challenges. Our extensive library of instructional videos, crafted by Licensed and Certified Behavior Therapists, offers practical advice and strategies grounded in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. These resources are designed to assist not only children with autism but also parents, teachers, and caregivers in making daily tasks like dressing easier and more comfortable.

Explore the Blue Parachute library today to discover how our resources can support your journey with autism and clothing. Our videos emphasize positive reinforcement and structured learning to support skill development in children with autism. Getting started is easy. We offer subscription pricing to ensure our videos are affordable and within reach for those who need them most.

Subscribe today! For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page or watch our video featured on Viewpoint with Dennis Quaid. We also have a dedicated support team here to help at support@TheBlueParachute.com. Join us and take the next step toward making dressing a positive experience for your child with autism.

Related Readings:

Blue Parachute – Who We Help

Blue Parachute – How We Help


Autism Parenting Magazine – Q&A Help: My Child Is Hypersensitive to Clothing

Autism Guide UK – Autism and the Issues Around Buying and Wearing Clothing