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Children and young people with hemiplegia, just like any other
children, vary in their desire for independence.
If your child wants to dress him or herself from an early age,
you should encourage them to do so. It is often tempting to help,
particularly when in a hurry, and this can become a habit, so it is
very important to allow extra time for daily routines.
It is more difficult when a child is perfectly happy to let
someone else dress them, and can see no point in trying if someone
else can do it better than them. Sometimes it is worth enlisting
the help of a physio or occupational therapist (OT) to try and
motivate your child. They can do this by setting small attainable
goals and helping with sequencing by breaking down the task into
Many children have emotional and behavioural problems or
problems with short term memory. A professional can get them
dressing independently sooner than a parent or carer attempting it
on their own. At nursery or school, well-meaning teachers and
helpers and a lack of time can get in the way of independence, but
you can talk this problem over with them.
Keep everything, particularly tops, as big as possible. When
putting on tops, put the affected arm in the sleeve first.
Obviously the fewer fastenings to close, the better. Jumpers and
sweatshirts are better than cardigans (but make sure the hole for
the head is not too tight). Where possible, replace buttons with
poppers or Velcro. Sometimes tops can slip off the shoulder on the
affected side, but tightening the cuffs may help prevent them
falling off completely.
Coats, jackets, anoraks and blazers often have to have the
sleeve or cuff on the affected side shortened. Toggles and poppers
are easier to manage than ordinary buttons, and poppers or Velcro
can be added to zipped jackets. Popper kits, which require no
sewing, are available from haberdashery departments or online.
Tops and shirts can have Velcro or poppers sewn behind the front
button stand or can be slipped over the head if the two top buttons
are undone. Cuff buttons can be attached with elastic, so that they
don't need to be undone each time.
Mitts are easier than gloves. For older children and adults it
is best to go to skiwear suppliers. To avoid losing mitts, you can
use the traditional elastic threaded through the arms of your
child's coat or jacket, or you might like to try glove clips to
attach the mitts to their respective cuff.
Buying clothes is easier than it used to be. Clothing ranges are
available online, and not just from specialised mail order firms
and catalogues, but also high street retailers and supermarket
chains. This means you can avoid treks around the shops and
changing rooms. However, check whether you have to pay postage on
There are a number of companies selling clothes for children
with disabilities. Most of these are designed mainly with
wheelchair users in mind, but may be generally suitable for
children with hemiplegia. See are guide
Aids, equipment and adaptations for suggestions.
You can find school uniforms in traditional outfitters but also
at budget retailers and supermarkets as well.
Generally, it is easier to find suitable clothes for girls -
there are pinafores that can be pulled on over the head as well as
pull on skirts and trousers. For boys it can be trickier,
especially as they get older. Trousers should have elasticated
waists, as flies are difficult to do up, as is the top clip or
button. Many ranges include trousers with elasticated waists, but
they also have zips and buttons and may not be designed for pulling
on and off. So you may need to shop around. Pull-on trousers with
false flies are available from some school outfitters.
Ties can be tied then cut at the centre-back and a section of
elastic inserted so that they can be pulled on over the head, or
the cut edges can be refastened with Velcro. If a plain tie is
needed, many men's clothing or suit retailers supply clip-on
These can be a real problem for children with hemiplegia. They
are easier to pull on if you turn them inside out and push the toe
back in towards the top. It also helps if they're slightly big and
stretchy. Some children have had success with various aids. Many
children find thick sports socks easiest to pull on, and if your
child wears a splint they also need to be long enough to prevent
Since children and young people with hemiplegia often have
impaired balance, rubber-studded socks can help prevent them
slipping over when running around with no shoes on. These are
widely available from department stores.
There are many pieces of equipment that might help your child.
For example, a dressing stick to hook on a coat or jacket to get it
over the shoulder, pullers to attach to zips, button hooks, aids
for pulling on socks or tights and Velcro strips to replace
buttons. You can also improvise a zip puller by threading a doubled
shoelace through the zip. Dressing aids are available in many
specialist mail order catalogues.
See also our information on Shoes & shoe lacing.