According to research from George, the move is needed – 8 in 10 parents (79%) of children with specific needs say that it is difficult to get their children dressed every day. As a result, nine in ten (89%) say they have become ‘distressed or upset’ trying to dress their children or watching them try to dress themselves, with nearly half (45%) saying this is the case ‘most or every day’. Similarly, 90% say their children themselves often get distressed whilst trying to get dressed.
The research found that it takes nearly twice as long for children with specific needs to get dressed. This is due to clothing being designed with neurotypical children in mind, with features – such as tight necklines, hard to do up buttons or non-elasticated cuffs – that are not always suitable for children with conditions such as autism.
The elements of non-specially designed clothes that cause the most issues for children with specific needs are itchy labels, clothes that are hard to get on and off, uncomfortable materials and seams that irritate them. These issues are tackled by the Easy On Easy Wear range, with buttons replaced with easy close fastenings, softer thread used on the seams and care instructions printed on the fabric rather than using labels.
Caroline Hicks, head of schoolwear at George, said: "We’re very proud to be the first supermarket retailer in the UK to offer clothing especially for children with specific needs. We have undertaken extensive research with customers and charities to ensure our clothing is suitable for them.
"Our main goal was to create clothing that allows independent dressing and that is more comfortable, thus addressing some of the challenges with clothing not designed for specific needs children. 71% of children with autism attend mainstream schools. We know that these children want to look the same as their peers, so we have designed the range to look just like the rest of the school clothing we offer. The collection also comes with all the great quality, value and sustainability that you expect from the main range – and all at the same price too!"
Tom Purser, head of campaigns at the National Autistic Society, said: "It's great to hear that George at Asda will be developing autism friendly clothing for children. Parents often tell us how sensory sensitivities can mean that autistic children struggle with clothing, like an itchy label, a scratchy seam or an uncomfortable fabric.
"Finding clothing their children can wear can make shopping for clothes time consuming and stressful. Many parents have to scour specialist shops for everyday items that other families are able to buy easily. So, it makes a real difference when a major retailer takes this on.
"Simple changes like removing a scratchy label make an enormous difference.
"Around one in a hundred children are autistic in the UK – that's around 120,000 school-age children - and they deserve to have the same choices as everyone else. We hope that even more retailers will come up with similar ideas, and do their bit to help create a society that works for autistic people."
Last year, Peterborough MP Paul Bristow made clear his desire to make Peterborough an autism-friendly city. He highlighted the need for increased awareness of the challenges that different groups face, with better training and services to support people with autism.
The Easy On Easy Wear range was launched by George on April 6 and is available nationwide via its website at www.george.com.