A new line of reversible clothing with no tags or buttons is perfect for kids with autism

Jul 27, 2015, 5:27 PM | Updated: Jul 28, 2015, 5:58 am
A former CNN anchor came up with innovative Independence Day Clothing after watching her autistic s...
A former CNN anchor came up with innovative Independence Day Clothing after watching her autistic son struggle for 45 minutes to get dressed. (Photo courtesy of Independence Day Clothing)
(Photo courtesy of Independence Day Clothing)

I realized today that I take getting dressed for granted. You probably do too.

I bet you can quickly pull on a pair of pants, and automatically button and zip them up, while absentmindedly wondering why almond butter is so expensive. If your shirt is inside out? Bam! You can flip it around and put it on correctly, no problem.

But for people with autism, or Alzheimer’s, or even toddlers, getting dressed can be a challenge. Unless you’re wearing something from Independence Day Clothing.

“We make clothing for people who have issues with fine and gross motor skills, so that’s a whole spectrum of people,” says Robin Drews. “My partner created them for her son who has autism. They have no tags, no zippers, no buttons. They are sensory friendly, reversible. No front, no back.”

The company’s founder is Lauren Thierry, a former CNN news anchor. She came up with the idea after taking her 12-year-old son Liam to a ball park for an autism event.

“Thierry took Liam to the bathroom and Liam was too old to go with her into the lady’s room,” Drews said. “She couldn’t go with him into the men’s room. And he came out with his pants around his thighs.”

“People we yelling at him, they were calling him a pervert, they were yelling at her,” Drews recalled. “She just couldn’t believe it had come to that. So she called me a few days later and said, ‘This is what I’m going to do.’ And I was all in from the get-go.”

It used to take Liam 45 minutes to get dressed, and he’d often need help.

“It has to be frustrating for anybody who can’t get themselves dressed,” Drews said. “Just to see his face when he puts on these clothes and it takes him three minutes. And he’s done and he’s downstairs and he’s eating breakfast with the rest of the family.”

Besides having no tags or buttons and being reversible, the clothes also have a little Velcro pocket that holds a GPS device.

“People with autism, I think about half of the population, tend to wander. Many of them are nonverbal. Even if they’re in trouble they can’t ask for directions,” Drews said. “People say, ‘Why don’t you just put a GPS on their wrist?’ Well, we’ve seen kids chew through a watch-like GPS because it bothered them so much. They couldn’t get it off so they just chewed through it.”

That sort of irritation is why these clothes don’t have any itchy tags.

Right now the clothes are designed for teens, but they’re branching out to adults and toddlers. All of the designs are basic and cute.

“They look like preppy clothes. You know, striped T-shirts, cargo pants. For the girls there’s a T-shirt dress, there are leggings. It’s all the kind of stuff you would see anybody wear,” Drews said. “One of the things that Lauren was uncomfortable with is you would see people with disabilities and they’d be walking around with sweat pants and a big, baggy T-shirt and they’d look kind of unkempt. You want to be able to have your children feel like they fit in. You want them to be comfortable and fashionable.”

They’re even starting to market to sleepy high school and college boys trying to get to class.

“Think about all the college kids who could just fall out of bed and get dressed,” Drews said.

Drews noted the clothing is so popular they are completely sold out right now, but they will be all stocked up again in time for back-to-school season.

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A new line of reversible clothing with no tags or buttons is perfect for kids with autism