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2016.07.21 - Marks & Spencer launching autism-friendly school wear

The National Autistic Society are delighted to have teamed up with Marks & Spencer to support the development of their brand new 'Easy Dressing' school uniform collection. It's available for sale from 1 August, but you can already sign up to register your interest on their website.

Following a product development campaign called 'Inventors Wanted', M&S received lots of feedback asking them to do more for people who struggle with clothing - especially children on the autism spectrum.

After consulting with professionals working with autistic children, they decided to develop an 'Easy Dressing' school uniform range. The charity was thrilled to be approached by M&S to work with them to develop the clothing.

As a first step, students at our very own Helen Allison School told the designers what they like and don't like about clothes - particularly the kind of things like labels and fastening that can feel very fiddly, and even painful and distracting because of their sensory sensitivities.

Boy and girl wearing M&S clothes

And, in March, M&S came back to the school with prototypes of the five garments in the range for the students to try out (pictured, left).

The young people and teachers were really enthusiastic and Corinna Laurie, an occupational therapist at the school and author of The National Autistic Society's Sensory Strategies booklet, welcomed the new clothing range:

"Parents often ask me where they can buy clothes that reduce the impact of their children's sensory sensitivities. Children can become distressed and distracted by uncomfortable seams and labels, itchy fabric and fiddly buttons on regular school uniforms. So I jumped at the opportunity to provide input about M&S's new 'Easy Dressing' range. It's been great to be involved as the clothes have been developed with help from professionals and students at The National Autistic Society's Helen Allison School.

"It's really wonderful that this leading retailer is taking on the issue of autism-friendly clothing. I know this range will offer families a school uniform which is easy to wear from both a sensory and motor skills perspective. I can't wait to be able to recommend it to the families I work with!"

As well as working with the charity to develop the range, M&S will also be donating 10% from every item sold to The National Autistic Society.

Go to the M&S website if you'd like to register your interest in their 'Easy Dressing' range, so they can let you know when the range is ready to purchase on their website.

About the 'Easy Dressing' range

Trousers (girls and boys)

A 'pull up' trouser up to age 16, so children of all ages do not need to worry about fiddly zips and buttons. No back pocket for comfort and the care label has been moved to inside the pocket.

It also features M&S' Triple Action Stormwear finish which repels water and stains.

Shirts (girls and boys)

M&S has replaced the first four buttons with a hidden panel of soft Velcro®, this should make getting dressed quicker with less time spent fiddling with small buttons. It is their Ultimate non-iron shirt, meaning the taped seams, non-iron and Stain Away™ finishes makes life easy for parents.

Long-sleeve polo (unisex)

M&S has replaced all the buttons with a hidden panel of soft Velcro®. Like this shirt, this should make getting dressed quicker. It also features a two piece collar so that a tie can be worn with it for a smarter appearance.

Our supporters have also asked us about seam-free socks and if they will be available with this range.

Although not part of the range, M&S have told us that they have an Ultimate Comfort Sock which is made from cotton and modal, with a cushioned heel and sole for extra comfort and a flat toe seam. M&S re-introduced the black colourway after receiving feedback from a customer with a son on the autism spectrum and this was the only sock he found comfortable and wouldn't continually take off throughout the day.