Some children have difficulty with fine motor skills, finger strength, left-handedness, developmental delays or other problems that cause buttons, snaps, hooks, laces or zippers to be great challenges. Fashion trends and manufacturing introduce additional difficulties from situations as simple as button holes being slightly too small for the buttons used, difficult snaps, mismatched hooks or inadequate zipper pull tabs.
Families of children with Down syndrome who find fasteners frustrating do search out current fashion trends that include velcro fasteners; elastic waistbands or laces; or have clothing altered so that children can more easily achieve independence with dressing and fastening their clothing. Motor planning and muscle control may be delayed or impaired so no matter how hard they try, fasteners are impossible to manage.
Families may take advantage of adaptive clothing or tools developed for seniors who maintain their independence while challenged by injury, illness, arthritis or other conditions. Some adaptive clothing is made for the convenience of caregivers rather than the individuals who require help in dressing and undressing. Although parents do have the right to simplify their lives, it is important that children do not fall into the trap of learned helplessness even when it masquerades as royal treatment.
Children should be allowed to work on developing the strength, skills and techniques that are required to dress and fasten their own clothing, but training sessions and repeated failures can teach them to avoid learning tasks by whatever means they can invent.
Children with Down syndrome deserve every opportunity we can find for them to be successful and competent whether they are learning and playing with mainstream peers or other children who have disabilities. Having control over their clothing choices and mastery of self-help skills builds self confidence and a positive attitude that will take them much farther than reliance on caregivers or peer partners for what we can help become simple tasks.
Browse at your local department stores or online retailers to find pants like
Lands End Climber Pants for boys or Levi Jean Leggings for Girls and tools like Button Aids or Zipper Pulls.