Santa has come early to the parents of children with special needs, who have praised a Meath mum after her plea resulted in a new Irish range of affordable specialist clothing.
Dunnes Stores has begun stocking the range of clothes for children with additional needs after the appeal by Kells resident Alva Cullen.
The sleepsuits, bodysuits, and bibs can now be bought online for children from 3-14 years old.
Alva was moved to email the retail giant last April after hearing of a friend who spent a fortune importing clothes for her child, while another was learning to sew in order to make accessible garments.
The new clothing range has been described as “liberating” and “cost-effective” by the Special Needs Parents Association, which says that parents are “hugely excited” about it.
Alva says the clothing will be a “godsend” for parents of children affected by a multitude of disabilities and medical issues.
“I was sitting having a cup of tea one morning and thinking of a friend who told me she was learning to sew to make clothes for her child,” she said. “Another friend horrified me in revealing she spent £99 on just three sleepsuits for her child from the UK.
“I just thought I must be able to do something.
“Specialist and more accessible clothing is often a struggle for parents who have children who are peg fed, have incontinence issues, have shunts in their head, tracheostomies, and many other other medical problems.
“Getting on and off conventional clothing on children with additional needs is a nightmare and often undignified for the child if in public.
“Senior management from Dunnes Stores replied to my email immediately and promised to look into it. They’ve come up trumps.
“I was so delighted with the speed they worked at and, although only newly introduced, I understand they are planning to expand the range even further.”
Alva, whose daughter Sorcha has Down syndrome, is the chairwoman of the local voluntary Special Hands Group, which has 160 members in and around north Meath.
“Although my own daughter doesn’t need specialist clothing, I can see at first hand those parents whose lives will be made so much easier by this new range,” said Alva.
Lorraine Dempsey of the Special Needs Parents Association said it was like an early Christmas present.
“I would say Santa has come early for children with additional needs but Santa is only for Christmas, these clothes are for all year around,” said Lorraine.
“I’ll be buying the range. I have a 13-year-old daughter, Rianna, and her bibs normally cost €12 each to buy. Unfortunately once something associates itself with disabilities, the price multiplies by 10. Now we can get clothes from Dunnes Stores for our children and parents are hugely excited about that. It’s liberating and cost-effective.”
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