Is this behavior a sensory disorder?

by Angela
(Florida)

My 6 y/o is beautiful smart little one, but when it comes to clothes is a real challenge, today I noticed that all her polo shirts from school were ripped off on the sleeves, she can not tolerate shirts with sleeves, socks, and she beg me to put her tennis shoes without socks.


She will never wear jeans and all shorts or skirts bother her even when they are big on her, she will complain that the clothing is too "tight" and she will say "I can't helped"... it's frustrating and I am extremely worried, she will fight the seat belt in the car, many times I have to stop the car and rearrange it because she cant' stand it (dangerous), she will not seat on the cushion chairs, instead she will just lifted and seat in the solid wood.

I am not sure what to do, I know that I am not reacting well and I fight with her constantly. I set up an appointment with a Psychotherapist but I’m not sure if this is the right approach. Is this behavior a sensory disorder?

Thanks for any help or advice.

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Jun 30, 2010
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Yes
by: DebbieKinIL

These are typical signs of tactile defensiveness.

My 11 yo DD can tell you about how clothes can "hurt." But through OT and other techniques she is able to dress appropriately (most times). My DD can not tolerate socks with any designs, all socks must be turned inside out and most of them are low. Also her waist area is very sensitive, so she cannot tolerate jeans. She has to desensitize to all her stretchy clothes (we call them comfy clothes).

It is OK for your DD to change immediately into something that is comfortable and comforting, when she comes home from school. She is dealing with the stress of tactile defensiveness all day long and needs to relax. In OT you will learn brushing techniques and other therapies that will help. Maybe wearing a leotard under the clothes will help her desensitize to her clothes- worth a try.

One good thing that comes with being a female, is that as your DD gets older she will try to wear more types of clothes because of peer pressure. Once she is diagnosed with SPD, you can inform your family and the school about what to expect.

The transition from her comfy clothes to any other type of clothing is the most challenging part of tactile defensiveness. So many mornings are a nightmare to get dressed and off to school on time.

Also watch the weather. My DD is very sensitive to pressure changes. Especially low pressure- on those days she needs a very long time to get dressed and is very stressed.

Record and chart what triggers your child in her dress challenges. Explain to her that she is very sensitive to clothes and many people are also. Ask her again and again (when she is calm) to describe where she is sensitive. Our kids often will describe things as too tight or too loose in the same meltdown and it may be that is what she is sensing at that moment.

I line-dry every item of clothing for my DD and I often stretch items out to make them feel more comfortable.

I have gone through most of what you are dealing with now- only a few items of clothing that can be worn. We had to develop a reward system to get my DD to even try on new things. She had to wear clothes-especially pants for 3, 10 to 20 minute periods with tags on- to desensitize her , this is also called habitation. If she could not wear them after the 3 try, then back to the store the item went. I can not tell you how many times I have returned items- sometimes the entire receipt. But we have searched and searched until we find the right clothes that can be tolerated. At you daughter's age try Justice. Also try some of the on-line stores like http://www.softclothing.net/ for clothes and IDEAS for getting clothes that your DD can wear. Also try the blogs at soft clothing
http://www.softclothingblog.net/



Jun 28, 2010
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help....advice please :)
by: at loose end

my 10 year old daughter has tantrums almost every morning when getting dressed.... even on a good morning( for us ) we can hear here sobbing quietly whilst dressing herself, she has 2 outfits at most that she will wear, but is now getting worse and is refusing to wear polo shirts for school she wears the same tshirt everyday now the dirtier the better, she refuses to wear socks ( used t have lots of fuss over them but now ive gave in) shoes are an absolute nightmare as nothing ever feels right she complains that clothing/shoes are too tight when they are clearly not and says they are itchy, she gets very angry, aggressive and very stressed.

gp has just referred her to a consultant this first started with sock obsession at 2years old & has been ongoing but last 6 months has been unbearable, also have 12 year old son with aspergers who i must say is golden compared to her, this is the only info i have looked at and thought yes! thats got to be it.....would anyone agree???

Sep 18, 2009
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I'd say YES!!!!
by: Heather

You also just described my 3 yr old to a tee! She will ONLY wear dresses!!!!!!!! Hates SOCKS and SHOES. That is our daily battle, how they "bother me, bother me". She cries and screams before they are on her. It's so sad. We are trying to learn about this and she is waiting to see the OT for an eval. But it is FRUSTRATING!!! Best of luck to you!!

Jul 12, 2009
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Yes!!
by: Anonymous

Hi! I have a daughter with sensory defensiveness. Clothes have to have all the tags cut out and some clothes are too scratchy, too tight, seams bother her, etc.

Get an evaluation from an OT immediately. It certainly sounds like your daughter is sensory defensive.


Jun 09, 2009
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a couple of ideas
by: Anonymous

Try lotion, changing soaps, or dropping lotion if you already use it. Dry or "slimey" skin can trigger negativity in touch sensitivities. Experiment with different widths and types of elastics.

Jun 01, 2009
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sensory disorder
by: Anonymous

It certainly sounds like it may be a sensory issue.

My little guy is 3.5 years old and he is just starting to really have clothing and shoe troubles. Some days are tough for us and i feel like i am constantly trying to come up with ideas to get him dressed or else it can take forever and becomes very frustrating.

Some tips that seem to help us:

~ try to let them have as much input as possible

~ use some type of distraction when actually getting dressed (favorite tv show, during favorite game, ...) Its amazing how things that normally hurt don't hurt as much when their mind is on something else.

~ chose your battles, it doesn't really hurt anyone if they go to the market wearing their pjs, or wear slippers to a playdate! (although you may gave a few disgruntled stares!)

~ listen, listen, listen. If you really listen to what sensory children have to say, you may figure out what they reallly need. My son is a great communicator and he has been able to describe to us what certain things 'feel like' to him. It has made it easier for us to correct things or find solutions.

Just today we figured out that letting him wear rainboots outside made him feel so much better. He didn't mind walking in sand, mulch, grass, or water. A day earlier he wanted me to carry him all day outside. Simple solution that let him enjoy the entire day!!! We were so happy for him. It breaks my heart that they have so many daily obstacles.

You really have to "think outside the box" many times.

Good luck!

Jun 01, 2009
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I think so.
by: Kim Sullivan

Sounds sensory based to me. An OT can be sure about it. I would let her help pick out clothing she can tolerate. I have clothing quirks still at age 41. I can't have anything on my forearms and I look like a total nerd in the winter with my coat sleeves pulled way up. I love yoga pants because they are uniformly tight and when they want jeans day at work--no not for me. Bras drive me crazy and I'm thankful I'm small busted and can get by with more comfortable ones. I'm picky about socks too. Work with her because it feels terrible having clothing annoy you constantly. I can tolerate a lot now, but the first thing I do when I get home is rip off my clothes and shoes and put on my yoga pants and T-shirt.

Jun 01, 2009
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Is this behavior a sensory disorder?
by: Debbie

It certainly sounds like your daughter has some kind of tactile defensiveness. You should look for an Occupational Therapist that specializes in Sensory Integration/Sensory Processing disorders. They can do an initial screening/profile and that should give you a good place to start.

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