An emerging Canadian clothing brand, Taylor Hart Designs, has created a line of outfits for girls aged 2 to 5 years old who have complex physical care needs.
The fashion line is cute and pretty and includes dresses and blouses any little girl would be excited to wear, but the items feature discreet pockets and pull-away sections to allow for feeding tubes or oxygen apparatus to be attached comfortably and inconspicuously.
The idea to create this specific line of clothing came to designer Taylor Byrom while volunteering at a local children’s hospital, where she met children who had complex care needs which often restricted their clothing choices.
“I don’t believe that anyone who struggles with health care needs should have to worry about their clothes,” Byrom said.
“When we’re talking about kids, they need to stand out for their personality and not their illness.”
The clothing’s special features include softer fabrics, openings for tubing, customisable neckline sizes, removable jacket backs and tags that are soft on the skin.
Madonna Nicoll, a Ph.D. candidate at Queensland University of Technology and president of Speaking Up For You, a social advocacy organisation for people with disabilities, says it’d be great to see more inclusive clothing options for people with disabilities.
“Children and adults with disability don’t want to wear specialised clothing, but if clothing can be designed generally to be more inclusive of specific needs, that would be wonderful,” she says.
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Nicoll was born with a condition called spinal muscular atrophy, which is a degenerative condition that affects the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, impairing physical function.
“When I was young, I can’t recall any specific details required for my disability,” Nicoll says. “This really is a very individual situation, where some people would greatly benefit from specific features within clothing design, and other people can manage successfully and comfortably without adaptation,” she said.
Australian company, Calming Clothing for Kids, creates clothing designed for children with sensory processing disorders such as autism.
“[Children] wearing Calming Clothing are more able to focus and exhibit greater articulation,” says designer Karen McMullan. “The garments are snug fitting to bring a feeling of security and body awareness in turn creating a calming effect.”
Mother Valerie explains how the clothing has impacted the quality of life for her son Billy.
“What we find with the Calming Clothing when we put it on him, he gains an incredible amount of integration,” she says. “So suddenly his posture improves, his ability to coordinate his arms and legs improves, [and] he’s able to do things like jump and skip.”
The clothes are discreet in appearance and look like any other type of children’s clothing.
“I guess the basis is people with disabilities want to be individuals without standing out only for their disability,” says Nicoll.