Sensory compression clothes for kids
June 18, 2020 8:02 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a source for durable compression clothes (shirts, tights) for kids with sensory issues?

I'd like to buy compression shirts and tights as everyday clothes for kids with sensory processing issues. Any specific suggestions welcome.
posted by medusa to Shopping (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Our occupational therapist suggested base layers, you might order in 2 sizes and see which is the best fit. I expect you’ll need to try a few brands as the fabric from one to another is very different. My kids liked to wear wool and silk base layers/long underwear as regular clothing but when they started playing on the floor it didn’t hold up at the knees... Our son is just 4, but he has strong tactile defensiveness and now he strongly prefers to just wear cotton leggings (I buy these a couple sizes big so that they fit but aren’t skin tight) and cotton long sleeve shirts.
posted by pairofshades at 10:27 PM on June 18

What texture and pressure is comfortable for the kid? For people with sensory issues texture & pressure are just as and sometimes more crucial than color & style. Ex:

"[Color] looks good on me" can translate to "[Texture] feels good on me". "[Style] looks good on me" can translate to "[Pressure level] feels good on me". "[Style] is great for dancing but not the office" can translate to "[Pressure level] is fine for some time and then I have to stop".

Just like some colors look better under certain circumstances / types of lighting, some textures & pressures may be fine during a short tryout in a store but not for actual use. Or, maybe can be tolerated for a couple hours but not longer. And just like nobody wears a color that makes them look like they're seasick, nobody is going to wear a texture or pressure that makes them feel seasick.

If they have trouble verbalizing, do you know what textures / pressures they return to voluntarily? That's a good starting point. Ex, if they like clothes that are a bit too small or tight socks, more compression might be a good direction. Of they take off headbands / hats / socks but like large loose shirts, I would start with some other tactic and not try compression until they could have a discussion about it and explain how they were feeling when trying it. Their reaction to touch can also be a good cue. Do they like light touches or deep hugs? Do they like those to go on for a long time or do they end touching quickly?

The kid will need to try each new item in-person, for a reasonable period. Be prepared to return a lot of things, and once they find something they wear for several hours without problems buy duplicates.

Please be prepared for the possibility that compression is the wrong tactic and will make things worse. I often see it framed as a universally good idea, even by people who should know better like doctors and therapists. It's not. Sometimes another tactic is needed. Sometimes there's nothing to do but embrace the baggiest possible clothing until the kid is old enough to decide to pursue self-directed desensitization. Non-neurotypical brains come in many flavors.
posted by Ahniya at 1:05 AM on June 19
posted by smashface at 9:35 AM on June 19

I appreciate the impulse to share some education on this, but we know that compression clothing is useful here and are looking specifically for durable clothing. We're finding that regular tights and long underwear get destroyed quickly.
posted by medusa at 10:28 AM on June 19

SPIO products are made in the USA and may be covered by insurance if you're able to order them through a medical provider.
posted by doift at 6:23 PM on June 19

I had some luck in using non seamed or closed seams (fabric turned over the seam) and sometimes in desperation inside out tights and tops as under clothes for loose fitting denim or tracksuit pants when mine was in the rough housing constantly phase but couldn’t bear seams either. This worked much better in cold climates where two layers were bearable. The wear and tear went to the outer layer that didn’t irritate her. I still layer camisoles under anything itchy even in the tropics.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:39 PM on June 21

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