Professor Kelly Cobb from the University of Delaware is once again helping the Philadelphia community in multiple ways by introducing a new “Green” method of clothing design. This time she is working to ensure that consumers are satisfied with their finished product. This type of fashion designing is called “Participatory Design,” which means that those who will be wearing the finished product help in the creation process.
This is much like the concept that if you help to make the dinner, the food often seems to taste better (and probably actually does) because your personal efforts and your “TLC” are added into the recipe. The same can hold true if you help in the clothing design process; you will enjoy it that much more!
Who are the Consumers?
Professor Cobb is working together with a Philadelphia company called By Kids Only. The end users of this design process are children under the age of 10 who are diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
A. Jean Ayres, PhD, who is an occupational therapist as well as a neuroscientist, likened SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. “People with SPD find it difficult to process, and subsequently act upon, information received through the senses. This disorder creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, and consequent failure in the traditional educational system may result if the disorder is not treated effectively,” says the SPD Foundation.
This is not a rare condition; one in 20 children has some form of Sensory Processing Disorder. Therefore, this project could have a widespread impact.
How is this designed to help?
One way in which it is theorized that Sensory Processing Disorder can help to be controlled or at least managed is by employing the use of a specific type of clothing. This type of clothing is tight and/or weighted, offering the children comfort and deep pressure. This then allows them to focus on other things besides their SPD.
Professor Cobb and By Kids Only are working on a project that allows children with a subtype of SPD, called tactile defensiveness, to design their own clothing. This will help to address issues presented by SPD, such as clothing texture, color, and fashion, as well as help to overcome the difficulty these children often have in the act of getting dressed.
Children and their parents can go to the website ByKidsOnly.com and design clothing that they think they will feel comfortable with or vote for the clothing they like best. This can also help to strike up a conversation between the child and the parent. This conversation can then help the parent to understand what makes their child feel the most comfortable and what really bothers or hurts their child and is affecting their child’s ability to function with this disorder.
The Finished Product
Professor Cobb and By Kids Only have included pediatric therapists in the production and design of clothing. Their ideas and feedback will ensure that the children’s clothing will also have a professional viewpoint. The designs that are voted best will then be created into real clothing, manufactured from 100% organic cotton, and will be available for all children to purchase and wear. The children who participate are given an opportunity, not only to help in the design of their own fashion and provide a solution for their own disorder, but also, to keep the environment clean for their own future in the production process. What more could a kid ask for? (Don’t ask the kids that question.)
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