Special costume is therapy for kids.

Position:Sensory Dysfunction

There is a new superhero on the loose--Bugman. Its superpowers come from a costume and helmet. They do not facilitate flight or X-ray vision; instead, they help children who have sensory problems. Sherry Haar, assistant professor in apparel, textiles, and design at Kansas State University, Manhattan, designed the beetle-themed costume and helmet with small attachments to make therapy fun and effective for youngsters with sensory integration dysfunction, which is commonly found in those with other disabilities such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Children with sensory integration dysfunction can have difficulties with their sense of touch, balance, or muscles and joints. They may be so sensitive that they can't stand to be touched. Tags on the insides of shirts feel like sandpaper. Or their tactile sense may be insensitive, causing them to bang their hands or bite themselves because it is the only way they can feel pressure. Youngsters with balance problems may fear climbing a step or, conversely, may twirl around or swing themselves to activate that sense. Those with a muscle and joint sensory dysfunction often feel jointless or weightless, and like to feel pressure on their joints and muscles.

Children with such disorders enter therapy programs to stimulate their senses:Yet, much of the equipment used in the therapy looks more suited to a medical or industrial setting, Haar indicates. `"Toys are inviting. Some of the therapy apparel out there was not. My goals are to...

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