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Sensory Tips for Learning to Wear a Uniform

When clothes irritate it can really make us uncomfortable and take our attention away from the task at hand. For those of us with this sensitivity, some fabrics, threads, labels and clothing tags, waistbands, fasteners, seams and even a particular colour can really interfere with how we function in daily life.

I speak from experience as I need to cut out washing and size labels and have been known to use a file to soften the threads preferring a hole in the clothing than be constantly irritated by the label/seam on my skin or wear another fabric under the garment. I look out for clothes that have the information printed into the material so there is no label. Have you ever felt that small stone in your shoe which is hard to ignore and gets more and more annoying until you have to take off the shoe to discover a tiny stone which felt huge? This is what it can feel like when your clothing is irritating. For some of us we don’t necessarily grow out of this sensitivity but adapt our clothing to enable us to feel comfortable and allow us to focus on the important stuff, like school.


So, with a new school year on the horizon and that new uniform hanging in the wardrobe maybe give some thought to how to reduce any potential sensitivities.


Here are some ideas that might help your child manage their sensory needs with wearing their uniform – giving as much choice as possible will really help too. Setting them up for success and reducing distraction from itchy clothing will help them concentrate with the high demands of school.


  • Observe what clothes your child prefers to wear, and this will help guide you in finding the school uniform that works best.
  • Consider the fabric – wash clothing a few times before wearing to soften them. I often bought pre-loved school uniforms for my children as they preferred a more ‘worn’ material.
  • Look out for seams especially on socks and undies – seamless clothing for school days may be helpful.
  • Remove labels and tags.
  • Loosen waist bands or find alternative designs if a waistband is uncomfortable.
  • Consider the colour where possible – a different shade or uniform option for example choosing shorts versus a dress?
  • Shoes that are comfortable and easy to put on/off – wear the shoes a few times before going to school to soften them and avoid potential rubbing.
  • Some children like to feel their clothing is snug around them – sports clothing under the school uniform like Skins ® or a soft worn singlet or T-shirt under the school shirt.
  • Others may like looser clothing and prefer track pants versus shorts / trousers.
  • Collars, ties and jumper sleeves can be great for chewing and sucking on – consider alternatives to provide the sensory needs but in a safer way. Search for sensory – chewy pendants and that should lead you to ideas on alternatives. Talk with your Occupational Therapist about ideas to support.
  • Laundry detergent smell – consider whether your child dislikes or prefers a fragrance?
  • Backpacks can help with feeling ‘grounded’ and secure as they add weight and a feeling of calm.
  • You’ll find it helpful to talk with your Occupational Therapist about ideas such as weighted toys, lap belts, resistance, and seating options to support your child’s sensory system to feel calm and focused in the classroom. Some children like to have cold packs close to their bodies to help regulate their temperature.
  • Have a look on the internet for sensory clothing products specialising in clothing for sensory needs. Also ask your Occupational Therapist who may know of products that maybe helpful for your individual needs.
  • Encourage your child to practice dressing and undressing independently before they start school. Dress-up and play ‘schools’ for the younger ones.
  • Practice with fasteners / shoelaces. This can be done when wearing and not wearing the clothes to help develop confidence in these skills.
  • Consider Velcro fasteners if you child needs more practice with shoelaces. Replace small buttons with bigger buttons, maybe a piece of ribbon on the zip to help with pulling the zip together, swimmers that are easy to get on/off – maybe two-piece swimwear is easier that a one piece?
  • Allow extra time before school for last minute changes as your child may become distressed with putting on the ‘wrong’ socks. Prepare clothing the night before so your child can prepare and know what they are going to wear.


This link may give you a few more ideas too.


Wishing you a comfy clothing 2022!!

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