Sunday, April 14, 2019

On Target

Recognizing sensory and motor issues people with autism and other disabilities face, popular retailer Target has addressed these needs by recently offering special lines of clothing and home furnishings. Through their Cat & Jack clothing for children, Universal Thread clothing for adults, and Pillowfort home items, Target now offers products thoughtfully designed with their special needs customers in mind.

According to articles on Target’s corporate website, A Bullseye View, titled “Cat & Jack Includes Adaptive Apparel to Help Meet the Needs of Even More Kids” and “Design for All: Cat & Jack Add Select Sensory-Friendly Pieces for Kids,” Target began offering “sensory-friendly” clothing in 2017. [To read these online articles, please click here and here.] For example, this line of clothing has stamped labels instead of tags, flat seams, and no embellishments that may bother children with sensory sensitivity. In addition, leggings were designed with extra room in the hips to accommodate older children who wear diapers.

Target clothing design director Stacey Monsen knows firsthand the difficulties of dressing a child with autism: her young daughter has autism and was not potty trained by age seven. Working with a volunteer group of parents and organizations who could provide input, the Target team worked to solve some of the problems of clothing children with special needs. As Stacey Monsen states, “My goal is to keep being an advocate, for my daughter and for others.”

Not only are the Cat & Jack clothing sensory friendly, but they also come in a wide range of sizes: toddler sizes 2T-5T and bigger kids sizes extra small through extra extra large. Additionally, the clothes are quite reasonably priced from $4.50-$39.99, with most priced under twenty dollars, making sensory friendly clothing available to a wide range of customers.

Following up on the popularity of the Cat & Jack sensory-friendly clothing, Target introduced adaptive clothing in the fall of 2018. Using input from “real kids,” designers developed apparel to meet special needs. Specifically, this clothing line includes snap and zip closures on the sides and back along with abdominal access openings that are hidden. Other features include footless sleepwear, bodysuits sized for older children wearing diapers, and jackets with zip-off sleeves. Additionally, this clothing is made with “extra-soft, comfortable, and durable cotton knits.” All of these adaptive clothes were designed to make dressing easier for children with special needs and their parents.

According to a Disability Scoop online article written by Shaun Heasley and published on January 31, 2018, “Target Adding Clothing For Adults With Special Needs,” the retailer added a line of clothing to serve women with sensory and adaptive needs in February 2018. [To read this article, please click here.] The Universal Thread collection offers tops and jeans in a wide range of adult sizes reasonably priced from $5 to under $40. Like the Cat & Jack clothing line for children, the adult versions are “sensory-friendly” with stamped labels instead of tags, flat seams, and extra-soft material. The jeans have longer inseams, wider leg openings, high-rise backs, and no pockets to make getting dressed easier.

Building on the success of the clothing lines addressing special needs, Target has recently added sensory-friendly items to their Pillowfort home collection. According to an online article written by Mark Wilson on Fast Company published April 3, 2019, and titled “Target’s newest furniture is for kids with sensory sensitivity,” Target is now offering furniture items specifically designed for special needs children. [To read this article, please click here.] Just as with their Cat & Jack sensory-friendly and adaptive clothing, Target designers consulted with parents and children to gain input on this sensory-friendly furniture line.

Furthermore, Target’s website details the careful thought put into these special home items on their “Sensory Friendly Kids’ Home” page. [To access this page, please click here.] For example, the cocoon seat offers “cradled comfort” as well as a removable, washable “super-soft” cover with a water-resistant liner. The hideaway tent allows children a place to get away from sensory overload while providing a carrying case for easy transport. The crash pads, like the cocoon seats, have removable, washable covers with water-resistant linings, as well as durable fabric and foam. The weighted blankets, which many children with autism find soothing for sleep, have “super-soft removable, washable covers.” As with the special clothing lines, Target has kept these home items reasonably priced from $20-100, making them available to most families. As Target senior vice-president Julie Guggemos explains, “At Target, our purpose is to help all families discover the joy of everyday life.”

Certainly, Target should be commended for their concern for special needs customers and their willingness to seek input about how to make their lives easier and better. By offering a variety of reasonably priced clothing and furniture that address sensory and adaptive issues, Target can successfully meet the needs of a growing population. Indeed, through the Cat & Jack, Universal Thread, and Pillowfort collections, Target can help families, especially those with special needs, “discover the joy of everyday life.”

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

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