An award-winning company is creating clothing suitable for children on the autism spectrum.
Ashington-based The All-in-One Company, with the help of local autistic children, has teamed up with the National Autistic Society to produce The Sensory Oneside.
Helen Sutherland, chair of the charity’s Northumberland branch, asked the company for help as autistic children can find the traditional onesie design uncomfortable, with her nine-year-old daughter Daphne having two that just hang in the wardrobe.
Helen said: “An extra aspect of autism, which isn’t in the diagnostic criteria, is the sensory element – and it’s very apparent.
“We have to choose clothes so carefully. Children don’t like labels because they find them really scratchy. They’re hypersensitive to seams and materials.”
Daphne, her friend Grace and other children with autism visited The All-in-One Company’s factory to help its team develop a onesie which would be suitable.
Grace’s mother Claire Wilce said: “The girls have thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s given them a voice.”
Kate Dawson, of The All-in-One Company, said: “We’ve always supported the National Autistic Society but we wanted to take it further.
“The children all told me what they wanted on their onesies and having the ability to choose not to have a hood or feet or to have the feet detachable was a huge revelation.
“They loved the idea of creating their own and making it just as they wanted.”
“When given their first Sensory Onesie to try all three children loved them and didn’t want to take them off to go home!
“We are over the moon to have been able to help the National Autistic Society and children and adults affected by autism, making their lives a little bit more comfortable and snuggletastic.”
Donna Swan, who runs Calmer Therapy, a support group in Ashington for parents of children with additional needs, also brought her son, 10-year-old Joshua, and eight other children to The All-in-One Company to advise its designers.
She said: “He has to wear a white t-shirt under everything.
“He’ll not wear jeans or anything that’s too tight or anything that comes to his neck.
“But there are children who are a lot worse than him. For some, it’s quite painful, and can lead to massive behavioural problems.”
It is estimated that more than one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and in the UK there are around 700,000 people affected by this lifelong developmental disability.
World Autism Awareness Week – taking place this week – is raising money by wearing onesies on Onesie Wednesday has been a prominent feature in previous years.
The Sensory Onesie is now for sale through The All-in-One Company’s website – www.the-all-in-one-company.co.uk/onesies/sensory-onesie
The company will send a fabric swatch sample pack so they can decide which material – soft fleece, sweatshirt, cotton t-shirt, organic cotton and bamboo towelling – feels most comfortable.
Kelly Railton, of the National Autistic Society, said: “Many autistic people are acutely sensitive to the texture of standard clothing fabrics and to seams and labels.
“This can mean that they are unable to put on clothes which others find comfortable to wear.
“We’re very grateful to The All-in-One Company for donating five per cent from the sale of this onesie to the charity, which will help provide vital support to autistic people and their families across the UK.”