Anything that empowers people with disabilities or special needs gets a huge thumbs up from us. Living with special needs can be challenging, particularly when it comes to personal care. Adaptive clothing offers simple yet innovative solutions to the difficulties posed by conventional clothing, enabling individuals to be more comfortable and independent in their daily lives.
What is adaptive clothing?
Adaptive clothing is specifically designed to accommodate the special requirements of people who have disabilities and special needs. This can include issues like limited motor control, irregular limb growth or wheelchair use, which might restrict the use conventional clothing.
Buttons, zippers and snaps can be a problem for people with special needs, and adaptive clothing is designed to overcome this. Sensory processing disorders can make the experience of wearing clothes feel irritating and uncomfortable, and this is another area of focus for the makers of adaptive wear.
Why is it great?
Adaptive clothing helps people overcome the challenges associated with dressing themselves: helping them to put on garments themselves, be more comfortable and allowing them to dress fashionably and feel good about themselves.
And it’s great for parents or carers who are supporting people who are unable to dress themselves, because adaptive clothing helps overcome some of the issues associated with conventional clothing that make them cumbersome or difficult to put on.
Types of modifications
There are a number of modifications made to conventional clothing designs. It can mean replacing buttons and shoelaces with velcro, placing closures on the back rather than front of garments and creating clothing from special fabrics to address sensory issues.
Front closing bras, side opening pants and seamless socks are additional modifications that make life easier. Tagless shirts and weighted vests are other types of adaptive clothing, and compression leggings are also popular. Additionally, adaptive clothing can be custom made to suit individual variations.
Shopping tips for adaptive clothing
If you are going to a bricks and mortar retailer it’s always a good idea to take the other person with you, so they can try on items and to choose their own clothing. Plus, shopping can be a fun day out – particularly if you have time to squeeze in a nice lunch break or some coffee with cake too.
If it’s not possible for the other person to accompany you, it’s important to know in advance what types of modifications that person needs, along with their size and colour preferences. The trick is to try and find items that are similar in style to current trends, and to look for high quality fabrics that will go the distance.
Great places to start when looking in Australia
Given that Australia has such a small population, retail stores that cater for adaptive clothing are few and far between. We love the internet, because a quick search brings up a number of clothing companies who are working in this space.
Able Clothing aims to inspire kids to live their best possible life by providing dignity and comfort in their daily wear. They sell their own range of clothing, and also offer alterations for existing garments.
Caring Clothing sells adaptive clothing for elderly and people with disabilities. Their wide selection is comfortable, fashionable and practical, and includes items like tops, pants, nightwear, dresses and footwear.
Easy Wear’s product range includes men’s and women’s garments with a strong focus on comfort, practicality and, of course, style. Their clothing is made from high quality fabrics, and can be coordinated for a matching wardrobe.
Spinal Cord Injuries Australia
SCIA aren’t retailers of adaptive clothing, but they have a fantastic resource on their site that links to a long list of local and international clothing designers who specialise in fashion for wheelchair users.
Whether you buy online or from a store, adaptive clothing can bring comfort, dignity and independence to the lives of people with disabilities or special needs. We’re really pleased to see that Australia has gotten behind adapted clothing, and we’re sure it will only become more accessible as time goes by.