Special Needs Adaptive Clothing

Accessible and Adaptive Clothing for kids and adults with Special Needs is really having a moment, isn’t it? (and yes, I know that the term Special Needs is being phased out) I bought my son some of the Target onesies and I’ve been quite pleased with them. We got them because I was concerned that he would mess with the g-tube in his abdomen and wanted to deny him access while at school.

Normally, if I’m being honest, I’m not a huge fan of Target. I just don’t “get” it, why so many are obsessed with it. I rarely shop there, but when I learned that Target has adaptive clothing, even a Target mens onesie, I had to check it out.

several kids and adults wearing adaptive accessible clothing for special needs

I still won’t join the throngs of suburban Moms who just love Target. But I won’t be a hater anymore. One brand I do love, however, is Tommy Hilfiger. I tend to dress in solid, classic colors and styles, so Tommy Hilfiger really appeals to me.

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tommy hilfiger special needs clothing

Adaptive Clothing for Kids

This issue, adaptive clothing, is one that is near and dear to my heart. I actually had this idea 10 years ago. No, really, I did. I talked to two local clothing companies about how to proceed. I just didn’t have the money nor the passion to pursue it. And, as Kevin on Shark Tank often says, “There’s nothing proprietary about it.

There wasn’t. Things like comfortable fabric, no tags, different placement of fasteners–you can’t patent most of those ideas. One of the first posts on this blog was a review of a shirt that used magnets instead of buttons. Those shirts were incredibly expensive and I often wonder how that company is doing today.

I didn’t want to be a millionaire clothing company owner. I just saw it as an area of need for our kids. Very early on, Kevin had sensory issues with clothing and his head was abnormally large compared to other babies. Many onesies and shirts were too difficult to get on him.

Adaptive Clothing for Disabled People

I’m glad others saw it too. Much easier to just shop for it rather than run a clothing company. And, since Kevin is a teenager now, I am glad that many are also offering adaptive clothing for men and women. With him, when I find something that works for us, I tend to hoard it and buy as many as I can. Hopefully this idea of Special Needs Clothing sticks around and isn’t just a fad.

Features of Adaptive Clothing

Here are some of the features of the various brands of adaptive clothing.

  • easier to manage zippers and other fasteners
  • different locations of fly and other fasteners, to accommodate wheelchair sitting
  • sensory friendly, no tags, comfortable fabrics for sensory issues
  • zip-off sleeves
  • footless sleepwear
  • diaper-friendly leggings and bodysuits
  • hidden openings for abdominal access and g-tube feeding
  • magnets and/or velcro instead of other fasteners
  • shoes that accommodate AFOs or other orthotics
  • shoes with special features for stability, non-slip and breathability for those with diabetes
  • magnets as fasteners
  • adjustable waist pants for wheelchair users

Special Needs Adaptive Clothing

The main brands that are emerging from this trend are Tommy Hilfiger, Zappos/PBS and the brands at Target.

It should come as no surprise that I will be checking out the Zappos line first. Being a huge Sesame Street fan, I have to see what the folks at PBS have come up with before I shop any place else.

Target Onesies and Bodysuits

Probably some of the most popular items in Target’s adaptive clothing line is the bodysuits and onesies. These onesies are also available for men and women, not just kids.

Yes, if I’m being honest, using the term onesie makes me uncomfortable especially since I’m speaking about my teenager. However, when you say the word, everyone immediately knows what I’m talking about. A bodysuit that snaps at the crotch. I guess I could use that phrase instead.

target onesie
Fine! It’s a onesie. I don’t care what you call it, we love them. Click image to see on Target.com

Abdominal Access G-Tube Clothing

Kevin has had his g-tube for less than a year. But I am so happy that we do not know the “tubie life” without accessible clothing.

abdominal access clothing
At the time of this writing, these are two for $10.50! Click image to see on Target.com

AFO Friendly Shoes

Zappos has recently come out with a line of AFO friendly and accessible footwear. Zappos also carries the Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive Clothing. You may want to comparison shop the TH site with Zappos.

PBS Kids logo and zapplos adaptive clothing
Click image to see entire line on Zappos.com.

Zappos also sells shoes to accommodate other concerns, such as diabetic footwear and stability walkers such as this.

disabetic shoes
Click image to see this Stability Walking shoe.

Sensory Friendly Clothing

Kohl’s is another place that advertises that it sells ‘adaptive clothing.’ Upon closer inspection, though, it appears that it is all only sensory friendly clothing. Yes, lots of kids need that too! But I didn’t see anything for abdominal access or wheelchair users. Only features like soft fabrics and tagless.

 Brands that are not adaptive clothing, but work for us.

I said earlier in the post, this has been an issue for us for a while. And, I want Kevin to fit in as best he can. Since this adaptive and special needs clothing has only been available recently, we’ve had to search around for what we need. I have been able to find brands of clothing that meet his disability needs and still look like every other kid.

  • Gymboree-has twill pants and jeans with elastic waistband. Goes up to size 14 in kids. {Gymboree has announced they are closing all stores, so hurry!} (out of business, unfortunately)
  • New Balance-shoes that come in wide widths to accommodate orthotics. Stride Rite has wides too, but they were starting to look too babyish.
  • Nike, Under Armor-sweat pants and athletic pants, so no zipper or fly to manage. And, it is the same clothing that his younger brother chooses to wear.
  • Lands End– I either order online or get at Sears. Decent twill pants with an elastic waist that don’t look therapeutic.

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