Sudden onset of clothing aversion

by Brooke
(Greensboro, NC)

My five-year-old son has always shown some subtle signs of SPD, such as a very high energy level & craving for hard sensory input (pouncing on the sofa, jumping, tackling us, etc.) But recently he developed - literally overnight - an intense aversion to all of his clothing. He had never complained about this before. Now all of a sudden he has begun insisting that his shirts and pants are "falling down," and socks & shoes drive him crazy. He writhes and screams like his clothes are on fire.


We are working very hard to introduce some items and techniques to help him feel better, but the suddenness of this aversion has me very bewildered and concerned. Has anyone had experiences where tactile issues emerge like this overnight?

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Mar 23, 2014
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Need help
by: Anonymous

We need serious help here, my 4 year old has had issues with clothes since he was about 2.5. He wore only shorts the entire winter when he was 3. Now his issue is that everything is too loose. Today he didn't get to go to the park with his brother because he wouldn't wear clothes. Even undies bother him, he'll run around with one hand pulling up the back of his undies as he plays. When he gets really frustrated he'll just shout, "LOOSE LOOSE!" and then it usually turns into a total meltdown. He does the same thing with his seatbelt, we can't possibly make it tight enough, he wants it so tight that it leaves a mark around his belly. I would appreciate any advice I can get, I'm at a total loss here and he's supposed to be wearing a 4 piece suit in about 2 months for my brother's wedding, which will take a total miracle.

Mar 18, 2014
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Please lets get a support group going
by: Lori Smith

Hello, I am a mom who is experiencing all of this with my now 10 yr. old. It started at 4. I would love to set up a support group on Facebook. No one has any answers and it's been hell for 6 years. Broke our family. Please message my fb page Lori Palmer Smith of Rochester, NY and I can get one started. Don't know how to find you guys. Together, maybe we can figure this out and help our poor little ones who just want to be "normal" and their happy go lucky selves.

Mar 18, 2014
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out of blue and never ending
by: Anonymous

My daughter had the same thing occur at age 4. Literally overnight could not stand to wear clothes. She complained they were "too soft". Especially underwear. Yet the only thing she could stand wrapped around her was the softest blanket she owned. I just don't think she knew how to express what she was feeling. But she was all agitated and uncontrollable which was very odd. Went through thoughts of PANDAS and such, psycho therapists. Two months later the symptoms just disappeared. Only to show up again a year later. Years…..on and off on and off. Now it's just on all the time at 10, and depending on stress levels, is horrible or tolerable. Has residual clothing affects. Still can't wear underwear, but mainly affects her hair, hands and feet. Anyone relate?

Feb 03, 2014
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Almost two years later
by: Laura

Almost two years later I want to report back on my daughter's difficulties with clothing. In short: things are better, though her symptoms have not totally disappeared. We threw everything at this that we could come up with: months of occupational therapy, a switch to a gluten- and dairy-free diet (based on a naturopath's explanation that gluten and casein can be irritants to the nervous system), neural feedback, cranio-sacral therapy, the Wilbarger brushing protocol, primitive reflex integration, auditory therapy -- you name it. I'm not sure what made the biggest difference, since a lot of these things we were doing in tandem. But my daughter is better, and I'm hopeful that one day her symptoms will disappear altogether. The main thing I wanted to add to this thread is that when these symptoms first flared up, they seemed totally incongruent with what I knew of my daughter's temperament -- it was almost as if she'd suddenly been possessed by some malicious spirit! It was only after a lot of research and a lot of looking back at things in the light of an SPD diagnosis that I realized that the signs of the disorder were there from infancy. Although the symptoms were less pronounced and took a different form, they were definitely there. I say this because I know how bewildering the symptoms of SPD can be when you don't have a framework for understanding them. The explanation is neurological, not psychological, it's not your fault, and there is hope -- things can get better.

Feb 03, 2014
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Aversion to Clothing
by: Anonymous

To Everyone:

It is hard to tell if you are still seeking advice as there are no dates on the posts, however I have a 7 year old who has experienced this on and off her whole life and the complaints are fluid, so hard to nail down, but mostly she is the same in that things can't be too loose, so leggings and tights (too small so they don't bunch) are her preferences. I wanted to let you know that I have observed certain triggers.

Being too tired, sometimes just from not enough sleep, but often just before she is about to get sick.

Just before a growth spurt

Periods of high anxiety, for example, when she had to change schools.

Since my daughters case is mild, my advice may not be effective (mostly we just persevered, compromised on some things, not on others) but I thought these observations might help.

Apr 05, 2013
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Sudden onset of Underwear, Shoes, Hairbands, Seatbelt issues
by: Anonymous

My just turned 4 year old daughter has experienced sudden onset of aversion to underwear. She also complains that she can not get her shoes tight enough and that the her seat belt and hairbands are not tight enough. OT suggests SPD.

The biggest issue we have had was the underwear and this seemed to create more of an issue with everything else (including increasing her sensitivity in her other sense areas especially auditory).

To prevent some of the distress we cut her hair short (she wanted it cut) and put away all her adjustable shoes (she wears crocs happily). We have recently discovered she tolerates cotton knit shorts (with banded legs to keep her modest). She wants the waistband to be tight but she everywhere else loose fitting. After a week of not pushing real underwear she started to tolerate leggings that sat a little low in the crotch (again no undies).

The 2 plus hour battles to get dressed every morning have stopped and she is dressing herself again and is happy and calm. SO NICE TO HAVE OUR DAUGHTER BACK.

I realise her increased sensitivity may return at any time but by being a "detective" we have managed a lot of her discomfort for now. I hope everyone else is able to find some relief for their little ones. It is so scary to have such a sudden onset of such seemingly strange behaviour.

Mar 09, 2013
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Here too!!!
by: Jenn

Wow... I must admit that I do feel a bit of relief knowing that others are battling this same issue -- with hopes that you all have found help or answers, as I am at the very beginning of this journey with my 3.5 year old daughter. It seemed like overnight, "nothing fits right." Unlike other posts where clothing is "too loose," hers just "don't fit right." It started with underwear, and I have bought every different fabric, cut, color, style (girl and boy), and nothing has worked. She refuses to get dressed without underwear, so she won't put clothing on. We are really struggling with this, as she won't leave the house. Even with activities that are fun (bouncy place, sledding, park) and things she loves, she will agree to go, attempt to put on some underwear and then melt-down! I had never thought about it looking as if they are "on fire" as others have said, but in fact, that is pretty much what it looks like. We're getting a referral for an OT eval, but I was wondering what others have found out. Is this a form of Sensory Processing Disorder? Any info or tips are greatly appreciated!!!!

Nov 21, 2012
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Swimsuit aversion
by: Anonymous

Im very disturbed bec the one activity my 7 yr old LOVES is swimming 0 she is nonverbal and v low functioning and now has developed an aversion fr her swimsuits - all of them (diff cuts and styles).. I am not sure what is going on.. getting her evaluated for SPD bec she is a sensory seeking child and severely autistic.

I tried to de-sensitize her by having her wear the swimsuit int he bath but she cried and cried and it was so terrible to watch,,
any advice on how to desensitize or what to do?/
Thanks,

Mar 28, 2012
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This could be my daughter
by: Laura

I was astounded to read your testimony. My own five-year-old daughter has experienced a similarly sudden onset of tactile defensiveness revolving specifically around an aversion to her clothes. She, too, complains that her pants are falling down. Prior to about a month ago, she showed none of the classic signs of SPD, and this remains an isolated symptom, divorced from other SPD symptoms and even other forms of tactile defensiveness. I really relate to your description of your son seeming to feel like his clothes are on fire! When my daughter's aversion is at its worst it's like she's being tortured. I don't doubt that whatever she is experiencing is very real for her. I want to echo another poster's comment -- it would be nice to know when you wrote about this, what you have tried with your son and how things are going now. I have been exploring the possibility that this might be a PANDAS- or PITAND-related phenomenon as the clothing aversion came on overnight on the heels of a rather severe illness/infection. I cannot reconcile the current situation with the bright, happy, carefree girl my daughter was just two months ago.

Oct 27, 2010
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Can't wear clothes
by: Anonymous

I'm not sure when all of you posted this, but my daughter has all the same issues with clothes. They are either too loose, too tight, too 'dangly' too 'bumpy', you name it...... www.softclothing.net has some great clothes. When my daughter first got them she LOVED them, it was all she wore all of last year. Our problem now is that she in in between sized so one size is too short and feels dangly at her ankles, the other size is too big. I'm trying to figure out how to fix that. Her clothing issues came on very suddenly a couple years ago. We went from simply cutting out tags to not being able to wear anything almost over night and unfortunately it seems to be getting worse. I would love to hear if any of your have found success in anything.

Feb 23, 2010
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Clothing aversion
by:

Hi, I have a 7 yr old who has displayed these symptoms for some time. He goes to a school that requires students to wear a uniform and every morning is a huge disaster! Nothing is right from the lines on his socks being even, his pants don't feel right, his shirts are all wrong. You name it, it's there. I just found out what he is trying to deal with and am happy that I know what he is suffering with now, I can do something about it. I have to make plans to change schools as his school will not make an exception for him. This is okay, however, I have to interrupt his stability again to do it. I feel horrible for him. He feels awful all the time. Sick to his stomach, headaches and such. He has asthma and when he gets worked up he gets very ill! I have to do what I have to do! I feel horrible for him, poor guy. He has missed so much school from this. We thought that he may be ADHD. I am not an advocate for giving young children medication. I am so glad that I know what is going on. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know. Thank you. Sherie Swarts, concerned mommy.

Aug 02, 2009
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expression
by: Anonymous

These children are now at the age to where they are able to verbally express themselves. I applaud you parents who are willing to listen to your children as people.

Aug 01, 2009
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clothes too loose
by: KD-New York

You have just describe my 6 year old son. I feel like I am reading his story. I do not know when you posted this comment, but i would be curious to see what you did and what happened next. I just realized that my son has some of these sensory issues and will be seeking help. My son wears a belt around his pants so that his pants do not fall off. Our biggest problem right now is that his bathing suit can never be tight enough and keeps feeling like it will fall down and he does not want to go swimming anymore. Last summer he did not have this problem. It all started in september. I thought it was all the stress of starting first grade. Now I know it is much more than that. Any advice?

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