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Independent Living Skills

Dressing – Boys

Being able to dress requires a number of different skills, including being able to balance, having good fine motor co-ordination (needed for doing buttons and zips) and being able to plan and correctly sequence the order in which the clothes are put on and orientate them in the right way. Once achieved, this allows the child increased independence.

If dressing and undressing are difficult then it may result in the child being slower to get to PE in school or out to play, and slower getting down for breakfast in the morning.

 Ideas to Help

Try getting the child to dress themselves whilst sitting down, so they are more stable.

Help the child to put their clothes on the right way by pointing out logos on their clothes and telling them that they always go at the front or that labels at the top of the garment are always at the back.

Encourage the child to lay out their clothes in the evening in the order they need to put them on. Try to keep this routine the same, such as pants first, then socks, then T-shirt etc.

Buy clothes with few or no fastenings. Use poppers and Velcro as they are easier to use than laces, small buttons and zips.

Practise buttoning with large buttons and holes, perhaps on another family member’s clothes. Practise when you have plenty of time.

Button shirts from the bottom up so the buttons and holes can be lined up correctly and the child can see what he is doing.

Buttons sewn on with shearing elastic allow the button to be pulled further away from the fabric. This is very useful for cuffs where these are harder to do and undo.

If fastening buttons is very difficult, try sewing up the button holes and sewing the buttons onto the closed holes so it looks like they are done up. Sew a small piece of Velcro onto the back of each button so the shirt can just be pressed together. You may like to just use this technique for the top collar button, as this can be the most difficult, since the child may not be able to see what they are doing.

Attach a small piece of string/ribbon or small toy to the eye of a zip to make it easier to pull.

Poppers on clothes are also an alternative fastening.

Choose tops with V necks so the child can easily see which way around they go.

Elasticated trousers are easier to pull on and off than ones with a fastening at the top for younger children.

If dressing is a real problem for PE days in school, consider wearing PE kit under the school uniform.

If tying a tie is difficult then use a tie on elastic, or alternatively make up the tie as it should look, cut the loop at the back and sew Velcro to each cut side. This means the tie looks right but is easy to put on and take off.

Try teaching the child to tie a tie by standing behind them when you are guiding them rather than standing opposite them – place your hand over theirs. Good websites with pictures of how to do it are:

Useful Websites and Organisations



Choose clothes that are easy to care for and easy to wear.

Patterned fabrics mask stains better than plain ones.

Avoid clothes with tight neck holes.

Store the childs clothes in an organised way i.e. plan drawers and cupboards so that clothes are stored in the order that the child will put them on. You could also label drawers to show what’s inside.

Storing trousers and shirts on clothes hangers helps keep clothes crease-free.

Store shoes together with a peg, so you can find them easily.

Placing clothes in order, either on a hanger or on the floor, makes it easier to match colours and see how well they go together before putting them on.