University of Delaware

Therapy garments

UD student, instructor design garments for children with fidgeting symptoms


9:25 a.m., May 9, 2012--A University of Delaware instructor and student hope to combine fashion and functionality to create garments for children with focusing disorders.

Junior Nicole Vassallo, an apparel design major from Aberdeen, N.J., has already begun researching garments for elementary aged children with ADHD that have trouble focusing because of fidgeting symptoms.  She conducted surveys with parents of children with these symptoms and developed three design prototypes.

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The apparel is called “Fikjastical” garments from an Old Norse word that led to the word fidget. There are currently other garments available to help some children with autism or ADHD, but Vassallo said they generally are not developed with fashion trends in mind.

She said her garments will combine current trends in children’s apparel with the functional elements that will help children with these disorders.  Vassallo said she would like to incorporate fashionable colors and prints so that children are both comfortable and confident in their clothing.

“I want it to be fun children’s wear that will help them focus while they’re still wearing something cool and durable,” Vassallo said.

Kelly Cobb, a fashion and apparel studies instructor, thought of the idea for the garments while she was working on a separate project with the organization Fun and Function, which makes clothing for children with certain learning disabilities.

“I just loved working with them because I feel like I am designing with a purpose,” Cobb said.

Some of the features of the prototypes include items children can chew on, multiple fabrics they can touch, and things they can safely pull on.  Vassallo said these items can help quiet the children and keep them focused.

Currently the garments are still in a prototype phase and Vassallo is conducting more research and tests to see how the garments benefit children with ADHD.  This fall, Cobb and Vassallo will begin wear tests where they will observe children in the garments and collect data on the functionality of the prototypes.

Article by Lauren Pitruzzello

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