Adaptive Fashion for CP Kids

2 min read

Image of a teenager in a wheelchair that is dressed in fashion clothes

Clothing Made for CP Kids

Clothing is a big part of our identity as individuals. For children and teens, clothing is a way to express themselves and gives them a sense of belonging.

For decades, parents of children with CP have struggled with finding clothing that works well with their needs. The apparel has been mostly about functionality and not fashion.

There are specific needs that fashion designers need to keep in mind when creating clothing for CP kids. For starters, fashion designers need to gather information from the parents of children with CP.

Specific Needs that Parents are Faced with When Dressing Child with CP  

As a parent of a child with CP, you face the decision to follow the Occupational Therapists’ recommendation of letting your child dress themselves. Dressing takes longer due to mobility limitations.

Here is a list of clothing items and adaptations to try:

  • Zippers: Attaching a keychain, handle or ribbon to the end of the zipper makes pulling it up and down easier.
  • Buttons: There are many adaptive devices designed for one-handed buttoning. For example, Button Hook is a wired hook that helps with grabbing buttons that are on clothing. It makes it a lot easier to fasten them.
  • Pants: This clothing item can be a challenge. It requires practice and building of strength and coordination. Some parents choose pants with an elastic waist. A good trick with button pants is to make the buttonhole larger so the child can loop it over and catch the hole on the button.
  • Shirts: Placing a shirt on a child’s affected arm first will make it easier for them to pull it over their head. Another option is to place their shirt, front side down, on their bed and have them dive in with both arms.

Fashion Designer Mom Finds a Way

Mindy Scheier is a fashion designer, and mother of a child with a rare muscular disorder. She understood that helping her son fit in with his friends and classmates was just as important as making sure his clothing is practical.

By using her personal experiences and first-hand challenges of dressing her son, she took garments from Target, Kohl’s and Wal-Mart and modified them to suit his needs. Surprisingly, her modifications worked.

Mindy knew the next step would be to partner with retailers and fashion designers who would be willing to adapt their clothing lines for the physically disabled. This inspired her to create a Runway of Dreams. It is a non-profit organization that advocates for adaptive versions of mainstream apparel.

Runway of Dreams has now partnered with Tommy Hilfiger. Hilfiger’s collection 'Tommy Adaptive' was launched in 2016.

Fashion Companies Join the Movement

Other clothing companies are beginning to include options for children with special needs. Here are a few companies that are making adaptive clothing a reality.

  • In July 2015 Nike added a style called FLYEASE to their shoe line. It has a wrap-around zipper that helps with securing the shoe. FLYEASE also features a larger opening that makes it easier for people with disabilities to slide their feet in and out of.
  • Target will start selling adaptive clothing online October 2017. The clothing will feature side entry openings, zip-off sleeves, flat seams and areas with access to the abdomen.

Cerebral Palsy Guide was founded upon the goal of educating families about cerebral palsy, raising awareness, and providing support for children, parents, and caregivers affected by the condition. Our easy-to-use website offers simple, straightforward information that provides families with medical and legal solutions. We are devoted to helping parents and children access the tools they need to live a life full of happiness