Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dress for Success

I recently read a column in our local paper by Rainbow Rowell about the difference between clothes available for little boys compared to little girls. Her contention is that boys are never allowed to dress their age. While clothes for little girls are actually cute, age appropriate and feature bows and balloons, the choice for little boys seems to be all skulls and skateboards, grooming them to join either an extreme sport or a rock band.

As the mother to two boys, I have to say that I do regret never having the opportunity to dress a girl. I have noticed that the clothes for boys do not seem to be very appealing, although I never could have put it as eloquently as Rainbow did. She writes, "Wherever you shop, you have to make a special effort not to dress your son like the kind of man you hope he won't turn out to be—a toxically macho dufus."

While I am happy to say that neither of the boys has ever donned anything with a skull, I must admit that I have sometimes lowered my standard on athletic shirts when they were on clearance. I absolutely draw the line, however, at those attitude shirts that you often see in the boys section. Quite frankly as a child with autism, David cannot afford attitude. And while the shirt that says, "You can agree with me…or you can be wrong" might accurately reflect David's temperament on certain days, I really don't think we need to go around advertising that he is having a bad day.

Most of the time, however, these types of shirts miss the mark for David and I would venture to say for many kids with autism. David has worked so hard to reach milestones that so come easily for typical kids that somehow phrases like "Own the Pain" or "Run Play Dunk Slam" seem to make fun of this progress. If you want to give David attitude, you would need a shirt that says "Red Rules" (still wearing a red shirt every day) or "Backward is Best" (because he has now mastered walking backward to the bus even in the snow) and maybe even "Sensory Sensation." For some reason, I have not yet seen these shirts at the SuperTarget Store.

P.S. Rainbow Rowell is a wonderful columnist and you can read her full column here. She will be releasing her first novel, Attachments, in April and it is now available for pre-order and whatever you may be thinking, I have never even met her.


  1. Somewhere... and I could probably google it, I've seen a t-shirt that said something like, "I have autism, what's YOUR excuse?"
    When my middle kid was 4 I had a brain spasm one day and got him a shirt that read "I am definitely up to something." And then I never let him wear it ... he was a bit of a handful anyway and I didn't want him thinking that I thought he was bad kid. But it stayed in the bottom of the drawer, and when he was a little older he did end up wearing it occasionally, as did his little brother.

  2. ah, here's a link and there are a few others..

  3. @ Anita - That is too great. Thanks for the link.

  4. I worry about dressing BB in sports tops or t shirts with slogans on becaise I worry that it almost draws attention to the fact that he *doesn't* understand sports rules, and *doesn't* get jokes or cultural references. I just look for plain tops, but I do like to try and find them in bright colours. You can't miss BB in a crowd, he's the one wearing bright orange!

  5. Interesting to read this from the perspective of a mother to a boy. I have a little girl and I'm always conscious of NOT dressing her in most of what I see offered for girls: princesses, ballerinas, or (gasp!) bratz dolls.