Hi LTC peeps!
I have had a number of people ask me why I don’t market Lani the Carni as sensory friendly so I would love to take some time to explain why I don’t specifically refer to my brand in this way.
Some of you might be aware that I myself have ADHD and have several sensory sensitivities – I have owned one pair of jeans in my entire life and I felt nauseated wearing them (the things we do to be cool 😂). You will usually find me in a pair of leggings, and a cute sweatshirt layered over a tee and a huge cardigan or jacket on top in the winter. And you will find that my clothes are pretty much variations of the same thing in different colours – well various shades of grey, black and the occasional olive or dusty pink 🙊 But one thing is, the quality of my clothing must be premium, feeling soft, stretchy and smooth or it is unlikely I will ever wear it. Therefore, it didn’t even cross my mind to make these clothes anything other than the same quality that I expect for myself. Besides, everyone likes feeling comfy, not just quirky folk like me!
In addition to my sensory processing requirements, I also have three daughters who all have autism and varying degrees and manifestations of sensory processing difficulties, including the most typical one of all; those evil scratchy clothing tags 👹 Using printed tags was not an intentional move towards being “sensory friendly” – it just was a no-brainer because my kids among tons of other people find them annoying! And they really are!
So why don’t I market these clothes as “sensory friendly”? Well the answer is as simple as because this means different things to different people.
In the same way we all have different favourite colours, music and ice cream flavours irrespective of whether we are on any neurodivergent spectrum or not, everybody who experiences difficulties with sensory processing will have very different experiences with what they can and cannot tolerate across all senses.
For example, my aversion to denim is a result of both tactile and visual processing difficulties. Just the look of it makes me feel sick and if it is touching my skin I am so uncomfortable I just want them off. They are cold and scratchy and stiff. And lord help me if those buttons are touching me 🤣 I also (ladies put down your drinks) do not own high heels and I never will because they do not have spongy soles 😜
My tactile sensory processing difficulties extends from my denim hatred to requiring deep pressure input – I constantly am pushing my joints to receive that sensory feedback and nothing annoys me more than a light massage – they need to hurt 🤣
I also can’t eat anything that is soggy. Any fruit that is squishy or overripe, or oxidised and brown is the spawn of the devil, as is any melon, ripe or not.
I can’t handle people sweeping concrete – I actually just got goosebumps as I typed that. Again, it causes me to feel nauseated.
If I asked another random human with sensory processing disorder what is comforting or triggering for them, their answers may pose many similarities, but the variations in those similarities can be so incredibly diverse. For example, they might be ok with sweeping on concrete but they can’t handle hearing people chewing (or if you are my daughter, the sound of her sister breathing; this has been a fun one 🤣) So while I hate denim, another person might find the stiffness comforting and the cold might alleviate anxiety.
I have personally been at the tail end of “sensory friendly” brands when my family has been in crisis and the promise of a deep pressure singlet calming my child and having us skipping off into the sunset toward a meltdown free life caused me to part with large sums of money out of desperation; only for there to be an aversion . They were “itchy” and she hated the tightness and squirmed for 10 minutes before she ripped it off. Funnily enough, my other daughter needs and loves tight clothing but give her a crop top under her clothes and she is all good – no need for hundreds of dollars worth of “sensory friendly” clothing. And you can see the disparity in sensory needs between siblings right there!
Therefore, knowing that sensory processing disorder is a spectrum in itself, it is not ethical to market a clothing product as sensory friendly because really, there is no such thing. I would hate for a family looking for solutions to come to me in hope (and often desperation), outlaying sums of money only for it to not work for their child.
My clothing by default is sensory mindful – I was mindful of sensory discomfort. I used my own experience to create wide necks, minimal seams, no extra “bits” like buttons and zips and the use of premium cotton spandex. When I was developing a product I put thought into whether it would feel stiff or like it was “choking” – but this was simply because it is what I would want and expect. I also know that while I expect to feel like I am wearing blankets and clouds, I also want the clothes to look amazing; which is why I have developed this range with the colours, graphics and fabrics that I have developed and chosen.
The response from the Autistic community so far has been overwhelmingly positive. I have had so many sensory sensitive little people tell me that my clothes are the comfiest they have ever worn, and tons of parents thanking me for developing our acrobat and aerial range. And I am so thrilled that I have been able to give them a place to turn to and feel honoured that my experience is helping others have what they need – but I think the point is, as always that we are all different. We are all unique – so can a product be authentically sensory friendly? No. But a brand can be mindful of sensory considerations and do it’s best toward inclusion when developing a product, which is what we have done and will continue to do.
We would love to hear your thoughts and invite you to let us know what sensory considerations you would like us to include in our designs?