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Target is selling sensory-friendly clothing for kids with special needs

Every parent knows it can be a serious struggle to get your kids dressed and out the door in the morning. But for parents of kids with special needs, such as sensory processing issues, it can be particularly hard to find clothes that their children are willing to wear. But now Target has made things a little easier.

The retail giant has rolled out a collection of sensory-friendly clothing for children under their house brand Cat & Jack, which will be available exclusively online. “The limited selection of sensory-friendly pieces features heat-transferred labels in place of tags, flat seams, and one-dimensional graphic tees,” Target spokesperson Meghan Roman tells Yahoo Style.

The line includes three main styles for girls (long-sleeve tee, short-sleeve tee, and leggings) and two styles for boys (long- and short-sleeve tee). “The leggings also will be available in larger sizes and a higher rise to accommodate diapers for older kids,” she notes.

Adds Roman: “Because these pieces are about inclusivity and making sure all kids feel comfortable and confident, Target’s internal design team used the same designs that are found in the Cat & Jack assortment, such as one-dimensional graphic tees, but updated the styles with heat-transferred labels and flat seams.”

While having a shirt with a tag or a seam may not seem like a big deal, it can be very uncomfortable for a child with sensory issues. According to the Star Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder, “occupational therapist, educational psychologist, and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened [the disorder] to a neurological ‘traffic jam’ that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks.”

A T-shirt from Target’s Cat & Jack sensory-friendly line. (Photo: Target)

Wendy Moyal, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute, tells Yahoo Style: “Kids with autism can have multiple sensory challenges including auditory, tactile, and even emotional overwhelm. They may have a harder time shifting their attention from uncomfortable sensations and have tendencies toward more extreme reactions as well.”

Having clothing that doesn’t set off those alarm bells is one small step that can help, which is why Moyal applauds Target’s new sensory-friendly line.

“Not only is this clothing line in the spirit of inclusion and sensitivity to everyone’s different needs, but it is particularly helpful because it is an aspect of the environment that we have control over — and why not alleviate as many stressors as possible in the context of a disorder that is difficult for both individuals and their caregivers?” she notes. “We can’t change so many aspects of the environment, so it is fantastic that this company is addressing one aspect that we can control, and I hope to hear other companies do the same.”

A dinosaur T-shirt from Target’s Cat & Jack sensory-friendly line. (Photo: Target)

Target is one of several retailers offering sensory-friendly clothing, including Smart Knit Kids, which sells seamless T-shirts, underwear, and socks, and Kozie Clothes, which offers shirts made of soft cotton with tear-away tags, as well as compression shirts.

This fall, Target will expand its Cat & Jack line even further to include adaptive pieces designed for children living with disabilities. “For example, this could include styles with zip-off sleeves and side openings for ease of dressing and pieces that open in the back for those lying down or sitting,” explains Roman.

Target employees, as well as customers who gave their feedback, inspired the new collection. “We heard from our guests — and members of our own team — that there’s a need for sensory-friendly clothing for kids that is both fashionable and affordable,” says Roman. “With this insight, we set out to introduce a limited selection of sensory-friendly kids’ clothing within Cat & Jack that’s affordable and offers kids stylish options to feel comfortable and confident to take on their day.”

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