Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Clothes DO Make the Man!

There is a boy a year or two older who attends the same school as my son, and he also attends my son's social skills class. This boy looks just like any other boy in his grade, in fact, he may even look a little cooler than some of the other boys in his grade, because his clothes are stylish and are appropriate for a 5th grader. His haircut is stylish, he is well-groomed and clean. I've talked with him, and he is definitely a kid with Asperger's, but somehow that just doesn't seem like anything other than a character trait.

I am very aware that many of our Asperger's kids have special sensitivities to tags in clothing, or different fabrics, and that these sensitivities may make them feel more comfortable in sweatpants and specific kinds of shirts. But, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that we all as parents try and get our children to wear the most up-to-date, current styles as possible. This is one instance where something as trivial as what one wears is actually an important way to make life smoother for our children.

I had two other children before my son with ASD was born, and I was determined to not let those two children be swayed by clothing labels. We bought ALL of our clothing at Target, Walmart, or similar places in an effort to avoid the NEED that some teenagers have to only purchase GAP, Abercrombie & Fitch, or other high-end label clothes. I have swung completely the other way with Will. If the other boys are wearing football jerseys, then that's what I buy for Will. If they are wearing K-Swiss shoes, then that's what I buy Will. I specifically go to my son's school and LOOK at the other boys close to his age to see what they are wearing, to make sure that I'm dressing him appropriately. I try to avoid sweatpants, jeans that have turned into floods when he gets too tall, or funny-looking shorts.

Often our Asperger's children are going to stand out in a crowd -- sometimes in a very positive way because they can be so bright academically, but sometimes because of their formal way of speaking, or their obsessive interests -- but if we as parents can help them to come close to matching their peers in their clothing, I think we can help our children feel more closely aligned with their peers, which in turn will help them socially.


At 11:54 AM, Blogger Goldie said...

Hello Kris, I found your blog through a series of links. Lots of valuable information here, will be back for more.

I agree with you 100% about clothes and I've been trying to do the same thing with my 12yo - clothes that are more or less in style, clothes that look good on him, nice haircut (or these days, long hair), for the exact same reasons. I don't want him to stand out in the crowd anymore than he already does. Luckily we live in a middle-class neighborhood and the kids are not pressured to buy brand name clothes - I'm not sure if we could afford that! :)


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