Parenting is a scary adventure for anyone, but it gets even more complicated for parents of children with disabilities. From wondering about the health of your child, if your child will be bullied for their differences, what their quality of life will be like, what changes we as parents have to make and of course medical bills.
We don’t always have control over the medical treatment of our children, but one thing we can change is how folks with disabilities are viewed and treated by the rest of the world. We can’t take away our child’s pain or give them the ability to walk, speak, hear or anything else, but we can work to change how abled-bodied folks interact and include disabled children and folk.
As psychologist student/Ph.D. student @cpandm_e who lives with Cerebral Palsey writes on Instagram, “sometimes I think people’s attitudes towards my disability can actually make me feel more disabled than my actual disability does.” It’s our job, as current parents, future parents, guardians, and citizens who care about the next generation to make the most inclusive world we can for children with disabilities. We might not be able to solve every medical question, but we can change how we include children with disabilities. One great way to do this: supporting the adaptive fashion industry.
“Disability” is a broad term, but in this case, I’m specifically referring to children with physical disabilities, whether it be Cerebral Palsey, Spina bifida, autism, loss of limb, or other physical differences that affect how kids dress. “Adaptive” fashion means clothing that’s adapted to meet the needs of disabled folk.
The benefits of supporting the adaptive fashion industry is three-fold:
Firstly, as parents, adaptive apparel companies make clothing that makes our lives easier as parents. This clothing is designed to be easy to put on for your child and keep them comfortable all day. Saving precious moments getting your disabled child dressed allows you to focus on other import things in your child’s life and promotes autonomy and growth. Your child can now get dressed by themselves! What a HUGE milestone! We need to continue to fund these innovators to ease the stress of dressing routines for children with disabilities.
ABL Denim, for example, makes jeans that are sensory-friendly for children with disabilities and children with limited mobility and dexterity. Their jeans are ground-breaking, helping parents everywhere.
But also, ABL denim and other adaptive lines for kids such as Target or Tommy Hilfiger’s allow kids to wear clothes they can feel and look good it. There’s no feeling like going into school feeling awesome in the clothes you wear, especially for a kid. We all want our children to have that confidence they deserve and these brands are making a huge leap forwards..
Finally, adaptive apparel brands or inclusive fashion brands promote disabilities as a normal beautiful aspect of life. As Krystal, a wheelchair user said to Intimately.co, “Shopping online or in stores I hardly ever see individuals with disabilities, in a wheelchair, adaptive gear,” her friend Christina who also lives with a disability says “Yeah, nobody looks like me.” The feeling of exclusion is something we never want our children to feel, especially for their bodies and the way they were born.
Emma Butler, founder of Intimately.co and online store for underwear for women with disabilities says “All women deserve to feel beautiful, no matter their abilities. The fashion idustry needs to showcase a more diverse group of women as models; we can inspire young girls with diverse bodies. We can help show them that they are beautiful.” Intimately.co is mainly geared toward women 18-35 with disabilities. But we can be confident that as our children grow up, their is a community like Intimately.co that values your daughter’s sense of self-worth. Their curated blog section is self-described as “the Cosmopolitan for everyone.” Women of all abilities share stories on dating, love, fashion, and life. Your daughter will have a strong community of women to support them and make them feel beautiful while wearing fashionable and functional undergarments.
If you have young children that might not need Intimately.co right now but sometime in the future, consider showing them inclusion by buying a gift from “A Doll Like Me.” This dollmaker makes dolls that look like your child, whether it be a limb difference or other type of body difference. Your child can know they are not alone and it so empowering to see other figures, whether it be a strong powerful disabled woman on Intimately.co or a doll that looks like them.