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Dressing advice for sensory differences

Dressing involves many skills: visual perception, motor planning, balance, and gross and fine motor skills. Independence in dressing contributes to a real feeling of mastery, which contributes to a healthy self-esteem.

Children may find dressing difficult due to sensory differences such as touch (e.g. finding materials sensitive on skin or movement processing (e.g. finds bending over difficult to tolerate), or proprioceptive processing (e.g. unsure where their body is in space).

Here are some strategies that you may find helpful in enabling your child to dress.

Sensory Strategies

  • Organise drawers and wardrobes to help a child choose their own clothing.
  • Use stories to explain the changes in weather and the need for different types of clothes.
  • Choose shoes with Velcro closures and add Velcro to button backs and hoops to zippers for children with fine motor difficulties.
  • Organise clothing the night before and lay the clothing out on the bed.
  • Encourage your child to put away the clothing so that they know where it belongs.
  • If balancing is difficult, have your child sit down to put on socks and shoes.
  • Colour- code clothing to help your child identify right and left.
  • Sing the steps while dressing.
  • Try dressing dolls or teddy bears to practice opening and closing fasteners.