Thomas & Friends autism-friendly clothing to launch on

The Thomas & Friends brand team in the UK are working with the National Autistic Society and to develop an autism-friendly range of clothing featuring Thomas & Friends.

Some autistic children are highly sensitive to the feel and colour of certain materials, to the extent that some clothing is unpleasant or even painful to wear. This range has been developed in collaboration with the National Autistic Society, who conducted research with families of autistic children and ran focus groups at the charity’s Helen Allison School in Kent.

Parents involved in the focus groups said that their children preferred softer fabric. Over half of parents who responded to the National Autistic Society’s survey said that there are fabrics their children will not wear, as well as specific colour preferences and ease of dressing requirements and needs.

In April 2021, the National Autistic Society conducted a survey* of over 1,500 parents whose autistic children are under the age of 16. According to the results of the survey, the biggest considerations in choosing clothing are:

  1. Pull-on clothing
  2. Easy dressing clothing
  3. No labels
  4. No buttons
  5. Velcro fastenings

The new clothing range, designed with these insights in mind, includes loose-fitting t-shirts, jumpers and tracksuits, all in soft fabrics and designed for ease of dressing. The National Autistic Society then ran two focus groups at their Helen Allison School in October 2021, where autistic pupils tried the clothes over the weekend and shared their feedback. Following reports that many autistic children ‘retain the love for the [Thomas & Friends] brand beyond the core age’, the range has been designed for fans aged from 3 to 16 years.

The range launches on during World Autism Acceptance Week on 2 April 2022.

Peter Watt, Director of National Programmes at the National Autistic Society, says: “We are delighted to be partnering with Thomas & Friends and to create such an important range of clothing for autistic children and teens.

“Parents and autistic young people often tell us how sensory sensitivities can mean that children on the autism spectrum struggle with certain clothes. For some, a label on a t-shirt, a prominent seam, or certain fabrics could be incredibly itchy, distracting or even physically painful. Finding the right clothing can make shopping difficult, time consuming and stressful. So, it’s really great to have the chance to develop this autism-friendly collection.”

“Thomas & Friends is an inclusive brand which invites all of our fans to celebrate friendship,” says Claudia Caron, Thomas & Friends Marketing Manager. “We are very proud to be supporting our Thomas & Friends community of autistic fans through our partnership with our friends at the National Autistic Society to offer more choices and accessible clothing based on what mums and dads of autistic children have told us they want to see.”

Karen Hewitt, Co-Founder of, adds: “At, we value charitable relationships and responding to our customers’ needs. As a result, we are thrilled to introduce this Thomas & Friends range, which Mattel developed in collaboration with the National Autistic Society. The team are delighted to be selling a range that is unique to the industry and provides our consumers with exactly what they need. We are thrilled to be able to contribute to such a worthy cause, and we hope that this is the start of many such initiatives from”

To find out more about autism or the the National Autistic Society, visit

*Survey commissioned by Mattel and run by the National Autism Society, April 2021.

Pop culture retailer Geek Retreat marks Star Wars Day and its eighth anniversary with National Autistic Society donation

The UK’s geek culture retailer, Geek Retreat, combined its Star Wars Day celebrations earlier this week with its eighth anniversary by donating eight per cent of its turnover generated on the day (Tuesday, May the Fourth) to the National Autistic Society.

Geek Retreat , which opened its first store on May 4th 2013 in Glasgow and now boasts 24 shops, is a gaming cafe, retailer, and events hub rolled into one. In a show of commitment to the hallowed day of the geek, the retailer enabled customers to celebrate Star Wars Day with special merchandise such as posters, clothing, figures, and memorabilia.

Visitors throughout the day were also able to enjoy a special Jaffa the Hut milkshake, a blend of Jaffa Cakes and ice cream.

All of the brand’s stores commit to a COVID-19 secure environment, with strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place, to give customers extra piece of mind that they can visit in confidence.

Stephen Walsh, founder of Geek Retreat, commented: “Making sure that Geek Retreat provides an inclusive, welcoming, and social environment for our more vulnerable customers, like those on the autistic spectrum, or with mental health issues has always been extremely important to us.

“With this in mind, we are delighted to donate eight per cent of our turnover to the National Autistic Society to mark our eighth anniversary and the hugely popular Star Wars day.”

Kimberly Scoltock, head of philanthropy and partnerships at the National Autistic Society said: “Thank you so much to Geek Retreat for donating eight per cent of their turnover to our charity on this special day. This means even more at the moment, when we’re trying to weather the financial toll of coronavirus.

“We’re facing a significant funding gap and working hard to adapt how we work so we can continue helping tens of thousands of autistic children, adults and their families each year, and fighting for better support and services. Your brilliant and welcome support is helping us to fill this gap.”

Autism is a lifelong disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.

There are around 700,000 autistic people in the UK. Because it’s a spectrum, every autistic person is different and will have their own strengths and face varying challenges. Some autistic children and adults need 24-hour care and support, others may need clearer communication or a little longer to do things at school or work.