Sensory needs & clothing (or why elastic waist pants make me happy!)

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I love elastic waist pants. And, yes, I have been putting on a few kilos recently but this post isn’t actually about me and my growing love of them (or my growing girth either!)

I was inspired to write this after a recent visit to my local Aldi store. They currently have a range of kids clothes for sale and I found myself randomly looking through them after heading there to buy much needed dog food.

I always come out of Aldi with extra items – don’t you too?

Anyway, one of the items I bought was a pair of elastic waist pants for Gilbert. I loved the fact they look like normal cargo pants but they have an elastic waist, very much like tracksuit pants.

Aldi elastic waist pants: clothing & sensory needs -

You might still be wondering why finding these pair of pants made me so happy. After all, they are faux cargo pants, with a tracksuit type elastic waist, from a budget supermarket.

Seriously, what’s there to celebrate?

Well, they are the perfect pants for my son, who can’t stand the feeling of metal zips, buttons or press studs around his waist. He usually lives in tracksuit pants in the cooler months for comfort. However, we struggle to get him into more formal pants for special occasions because of his sensory needs.

These pants, that look acceptable to wear out but still promise comfort for my son, are the holy grail of pants for him. I never thought we’d ever find anything like them. They completely meet his sensory needs.

In fact, I later returned and bought a couple more pairs for next year!

Extra elastic waist pants for next year: sensory needs & clothing -

This small win highlights the struggle that many special needs parents face when it comes to sensory needs & clothing for their kids. It’s not easy to buy clothes for individuals who struggle to process the most minute sensory input from their surroundings.

Imagine wearing a scratchy jumper. Imagine feeling itchy and irritated around your neck, on your wrists, around your waist and maybe even along your back as you stretched and moved. Imagine having to deal with that for an entire day as it was cold and you didn’t have an alternate jumper to wear.

Imagine how distracting it would be. Imagine how hard it would be to concentrate on anything other than the constant irritation of that jumper on your skin. Can you imagine how irritated, frustrated and over it all you’d feel after only a little while, let alone the entire day?

That’s a small insight into the everyday lives of kids with sensory processing difficulties. Except, it’s not just one day of the year for them (you’d get rid of that jumper as soon as you could, wouldn’t you?)

No, this is their reality, every minute of every day.


It’s easy for you and me to filter out most distracting sensory input as our brains are wired to only bring notice to the most important sensations. So we only notice loud sounds, strong smells, bitter tastes, bright glare, sharp sensations, big jolts and hard slaps. We ignore pretty much everything else going on around us because our brains are wired to filter them out.

For kids with sensory processing difficulties, their filter does not work in the same way, which means they can sometimes be bombarded with everything going on around them. They may be conscious of all the sensations coming into contact with them, not just the most important. Which means they are easily distracted and overwhelmed by the sensations of everyday life. It’s no surprise they may become distressed and upset easily.

For others, their filter works too well and they are unaware of all the sensations that come their way. These kids might want to create noise, move their fingers in front of their eyes, smell random objects, touch everything, chew on their clothes, climb everywhere or jump on the lounge. This is their way of getting the sensory input they crave, yet are missing.

Either way, you can imagine how hard it would be to live in this way. It’s what my kids, and many others deal with most days. Hence an entire post about elastic waist pants from Aldi!

Aldi elastic waist pants close up: clothing & sensory needs -

When I can help my kids with their sensory needs, I get excited. That’s why I love fidget toys and earmuffs and squishy balls. It’s why I brush my daughter most nights in bed and lay on my son to give him the deep pressure he craves.

It’s why I pack a sensory lunchbox for my son and encourage my daughter to wear chewy jewellery under her school uniform. It’s why my husband plays rough with Gilbert most nights to help settle him down and why Matilda listens to a therapeutic listening program before bed.

It’s why I also scoured the Bunnings website to unearth over 40 sensory hacks to meet our kids’ needs.

We do all of this to help them better cope with the overwhelming world around them.

I don’t want them to live in a constant state of anxiety, distraction, fear and sensitivity.

I want them to have a chance at a full, happy and meaningful life.

Hopefully these strategies (including elastic waist pants!) will help them achieve that.

How do you help your kids with their sensory needs?

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16 Responses

  1. Elastic waisted pants are great 🙂 . My husband and I attended a full day workshop on sensory processing by Jen Jerob earlier this year. It was transformative for us, not just in understanding our child but understanding all people’s sensory needs.

    • Kirsty says:

      It’s really eye opening when you start seeing all the sensory input our brains process every single second. I’ll have to check out Jen Jerob myself – thanks for the tip!

  2. Great post, what an insight. I had no real idea what was involved on a daily basis.

    • Kirsty says:

      It can be very hard to understand and deal with but it’s so good when you do get little wins along the way!

  3. Katie says:

    Glad you found these pants, it must be very difficult. Thanks for explaining, I now understand a little more what having a sensory processing difficulty must be like.

    • Kirsty says:

      I’m so pleased you got something out of this Katie! It’s something that I would not have known either had I not had kids with sensory issues.

  4. Amy H says:

    I too think you explained this really well to someone (like me) who has no idea. Appreciate every win even if it is a pair of stretchy waist pants from a budget supermarket!

    • Kirsty says:

      Thanks Amy. I’m so pleased you got a little glimpse into this world and that you can understand my excitement at this little win!

  5. I hate scratchy or uncomfortable clothes too. In fact my grandma knitted my high school jumper in acrylic as I couldn’t stand wearing the wool standard issue uniform. I still hate anything restrictive on my waist. Yay for elastic!
    Janet Camilleri aka Middle Aged Mama recently posted..Still Got that Honeymoon Feeling …

  6. You are such a good Mum! And Aldi for the win, I make Dave go because I can never leave without extras!

  7. chickenruby says:

    we struggle with waist bands for our adult daughter, not for sensory needs but because she wear a nappy/pad, it’s a battle to find high waisted trousers and long tops which do need a tight waist band other wise she lifts it and flashes at passer by’s, glad you managed to find some trousers that suit your son and well done on buying more for next year, good thinking #spectrumsunday
    chickenruby recently posted..My Sunday Photo – Week 124 – O is for outdoors

  8. I saw them at Aldi and wished they sold them in my son’s size (he’s very tall). As you say, it’s all about the way things feel. some clothes are so uncomfortable – as are shoes – and some uniforms can be hell too. Shopping is usually a nightmare, especially for warm clothes. And it took me a long time, I’m ashamed to admit, that the reason who used to keep taking his shoes off on the way to school, was that he couldn’t stand the lining in the school socks. Shoes are socks are still the last thing to go on now, and luckily his feet are so big, the uniform shop doesn’t sell socks in his size. So he can finally wear comfortable socks, as long as they are white!

    • Kirsty says:

      I’m lucky I don’t have the same issues with socks and shoes but it is a real challenge for so many kids and their families. I’m glad for both of you that he can now wear socks that are comfortable!

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