Vans designs “sensory inclusive” range of shoes for people with autism

The collection includes shoes for toddlers, children and adults and has been designed in collaboration with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, an advocacy group which supports the care of people with developmental disorders.

Skatewear company Vans has launched a new shoe collection designed to be more easily worn by people with autism.

The Autism Awareness Collection is “sensory inclusive”, according to Vans. This means the shoes have been designed with “common sensory sensitivities” in mind, such as issues people with autism might have with touch and sight.

A collaborative effort

The collection, which includes shoes for toddlers, children and adults, has been designed in collaboration with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), an organisation which advocates for the proper care and education in the field of cognitive disorders.

According to IBCCES, a team worked collaboratively to asses the design of the shoes, colour palette and communications strategy. The finished product has been accredited as a Certified Autism Resource.

Informed by experience

The design of the shoes has been informed by IBCCES and the experiences of people with autism. They include “design features that focus on the sense of touch, sight and sound”, according to Vans.

Most shoes aimed at toddlers and children have been designed with a heel-pull for “easy-on capabilities”, while the whole line has been fitted with Vans’ ComfyCush soles, which the company says is for ease of wear. Many are also slip-on or use velcro-style fastening.

Some of the more sensory elements include a “holographic water printed upper”, which aims to visually stimulate wearers, and a “squishy check upper” or red velvet hearts, which are stimulating in a more tactile way.

All of the shoes, and the accompanying t-shirts, have been designed in a calming colour palette, Vans says, to avoid over-stimulation in wearers.


In line with the various autism awareness events which will be occurring throughout the world next month (April is Autism Awareness Month for the Autism Society of America, while the UK’s National Autistic Society’s World Autism Awareness Week runs from 30 March to 5 April) a portion of the proceeds made from the collection will be donated to the A.skate Foundation.

Created with the intention of helping children with autism, and their families, the foundation provides occupational therapy that focuses on social development and motor skills. Vans says it will donate a minimum of $100,000 to the cause from this collection.

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