Teach Dressing Skills to Kids With Autism

Dressing skill, one of the ADL skills, is very important for the child to learn and become independent in the dressing skill.

Developmental Dressing Skills:

Before we get into the strategies to teach dressing, let’s see the developmental dressing skills for your child. Every parent needs to know this because this helps them to train their child to achieve a specific step in the dressing task, depending on the age of the child.

  1. 12 months
  • The child can remove and pull up the socks.
  • Raises arms and shows legs in an attempt to assist for dressing.
  1. 24 months
  • Undresses independently.
  • Finds the hole in the shirt or frock and tries to insert their arm into it.
  • Unfastens the zip.
  1. 36 months
  • Zips up and down.
  • Put on simple clothes like a jacket.
  • Put on shoes and sandals but requires assistance for fastening.
  • Unfastens large button and shoelace.
  1. 48 months
  • Able to wear t-shirt, frock.
  • Able to pull up the inner garments, pants.
  1. 60 months
  • Dresses independently.
  • Able to fasten button with little assistance.
  1. 72 months
  • Able to fasten zip and button without assistance.
  • Tries to tie the shoelace.

No matter if your child has not achieved the step at the appropriate age, keep practicing and never jump to the next step until the child learns.

Prerequisites for dressing skills:

Before we set goals for dressing skills, the following basic skills have to be assessed, practiced and mastered. The required skills are:

  • Coordination skill.
  • Balancing skill.
  • Fine motor skill.
  • Attention and concentration.
  • Identifying and/or labelling the objects (here, shirt, pant, frock, inner garments, socks, etc).
  • Knowing directions.
  • Knowing right and left discrimination.
  • Sensory assessment and sensory integration therapy.


  1. Start from Doffing:

Removing is the easiest and quickest step for the child to learn and perform.

  • Start from removing the socks, shoe, jacket.
  • For the pant, after unfastening the button and zip, ask the child to pull down the pant.
  • Gradually, try doffing the shirt or frock
  1. Mirror:
  • It would be useful if you dress the child in front of the mirror so that the child would try to observe and learn the skill.
  1. Toys:
  • It is fun and interesting for the child when asked to dress their favourite toy. Initially, we can provide from full to moderate assistance for dressing the toy and gradually fade the assistance.
  • Following this, making the child generalize each step on self has to be carried on side by side.
  1. Table-top activity:
  • Practice zipping up and down as one of the table-top activity.
  • Similarly, unfastening large buttons must be practiced as a table-top activity and followed by this, make the child unfasten the button on the worn shirt and take off the shirt.
  • Gradually fastening the button can be taught in the same way along with generalizing it.
  • Lacing and tying the shoelace can also be implemented as one of the fine motor table-top activity.


  • Verbal cue for each step is essential.
  • Be patient and perform one step at a time, its okay if the child requires more time to learn.

8 thoughts on “Teach Dressing Skills to Kids With Autism

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *