Dressing Strategies for Children

coloured buttons

(Sharon Patrick Habilitation Worker)

Strategies are important for children who are blind or visually impaired as it is essential to encourage independence.  Try not to do it for them, even if you are in a rush, and always show tasks that are at the right level for your child, for example do not attempt to teach your child to tie their shoelaces if they cannot perform two handed tasks e.g. put on their shoes and socks.


Dressing Tips

With your child:

  • Start with undressing.  Undressing before bed and helping to put on pyjamas is a good time to start as it can be less rushed.
  • Think about what position is best when dressing e.g. sit in a corner where both walls give added support to keep your child balanced.
  • Break each step of the activity into small stages and talk it through with them.
  • Use language such as –“pull over your head”, “push your arm through”.

 Think about clothing:

  • Help lay out the clothes in the order that they are going to be put on.
  • Use cues such as the label to identify the back or if it does not have a label, sew a small button on to the inside/back of the clothing item.
  • Use a variety of different shapes and sizes of buttons and sew them on the inside of clothing items so that your child can identify what the item is e.g. sewing a square button in the inside of all school clothing items lets your child identify all their school clothes.
  • Loose sleeves & elasticated waistbands can help your child greatly when dressing themselves.
  • Think about how easy an item is to put on when you buy it
  • buy clothing which has a logo or pocket on the front to help with orientation and Velcro and popper fastenings rather than buttons.

Buttons   Buttons are easier to grasp if they are flat (not concave), large or textured.  Allow your child to practice buttoning the item on a table or on their lap before they try buttoning what they are wearing.  Fastening buttons can be made easier by adding longer shank threads to enable their little fingers more room to position the button correctly for the button hole.

 Zips- Attaching a key-ring or safety pin to the zip can help your child locate the zip and it is also easier for them to grasp.  As with learning to button, allow your child to first practice with the zipper on their coat whilst on their knee or on a table top.

long shank button          adapted zip