Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tagless for Comfort

The other day, I did something I haven’t done in a few years. I took myself shopping. Like many Americans, although our jobs have remained the same, our income has not kept up with soaring insurance costs, rising food costs and more. But jeans wear out and shoes wear thin and eventually need replacing.

One trend I noticed while shopping is largely neglected by most. It isn’t the Color of the Year (Pantone, anyone?), or faux fur vs fleece. It’s all about the tags.

Yes, this is on its side. No, I can't get Blogger to fix the orientation. *sigh*
When Kristina was little, like most kids on the autism spectrum, she detested tags. And this included those on her stuffed animals, which she promptly whacked off the first moment she gained access to a pair of scissors. For most families with sensory sensitive kids, tags are a bane. They scratch, they itch, they do anything but lie flat. In short, they are a literal pain in the neck.

Or side.

Or waist.

Which brings me back to my new shirt. I took the plunge and bought one with a pattern to it. Olive green with swirls of lighter green and sage. A pattern that will be quite dated by season’s end, ensuring a built-in excuse to buy another. On the tag, I read something that caught my eye. It said, “tagless for comfort.” It made me think of so many families who’ve clipped these bits for longer than my daughter has been alive. Sure, the decision to make these is likely the result of cutting costs instead of outcry, but what a (literal) relief, just the same.

Now, that claim was only partly true. There was some sort of white plasticky- thing sticking out from the neck, along with regulated care information sewed in the side seam.

But it had me thinking deeper. Tagless for comfort. How many people use “tags” for themselves out of necessity for access to services, for greater understanding and acceptance, but who would rather go tagless, and be accepted for who they are, no label needed?

I know my daughter does.

The truth is tags are often uncomfortable. They can draw unwanted attention. Just as a scratchy tag can make a beautiful dress unbearable to wear, focusing too much on the tag can distract from the person wearing it.

Yes, labels and such are needed and useful, just like the one sewn into the side seams that tells the wearer how to care for that particular piece of clothing. It is very important that proper diagnoses are made and the sooner the better. But once that is done, it’s time to move on and grow. And as your child grows, her sensitivities and skill sets will likely grow and change as well.

This post isn’t about getting rid of tags, per se. It’s about choosing to look at the person for who they are, not what they are wearing.

But you already do that, right?


  1. My son is 9 and recently assessed as autism spectrum/aspergers. Recently as in a week ago. I haven't discussed it with him, he only knows that he is now going to speech and resources instead of just speech. He also has two older brothers that I haven't talked to about it. I don't know what to say or even if I should. I don't want them to label him, I don't want him to label himself. Not sure what to do, how to approach this. I haven't even told my family because my mom is a chronic over-reactor. Any thoughts or ideas on this?

    1. Hi there! Thanks so much for posting this. It is definitely a difficult decision and the answer varies depending on the family. My first thoughts are that he will be asking questions (if he hasn't already) about why he is going to "specials", etc. Honesty is best, but so is understanding how much information to give him when. As for extended family, that is trickier. It is important to understand how those will use the information given to them. Some will be wonderfully supportive, some will be confused (or simply unfamiliar), while others may react in a way that adds stress. Take time to assess your unique situation and the answers will come. :)

      If you'd like, feel free to post any questions on my book's Facebook page: We've got a great community there, and I try to make sure posts are shown. There may not be many folks checking out the page this week as it's Thanksgiving week, but there may be a fellow reader there who is. :)

      Hang in there, and definitely know there are many others who have been in your shoes! :)