Childrearing

My Daughter’s Sensory Sensitivity Is Ruining My Life

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Sensory sensitivity to clothesLet me tell you something about my lovely, spirited, six-year-old daughter: getting her dressed is going to be the death of me. If there is a report on the news about my death, you will know that it involved children’s socks. My daughter is high on the sensory sensitivity scale when it comes to clothes and fabrics, and it is making my life a living, tagless, zipporless hell.

There are a number of things kids can have sensory sensitivity to– food texture, light, noise, etc, and we all fall somewhere on the scale of “impervious” to “completely pervious.” At the high end of the spectrum is Sensory Processing Disorder, which involves an extreme sensitivity to sound, for example, or a child who gets very upset when they’re touched. My daughter doesn’t have that. But when it comes to clothing, she is right near the tippy top and has been for years now.

Here are the requirements when shopping for clothes with a child who is highly sensitive to the clothes you are shopping for. Shirts can’t have any elastic in them (around the chest or arms), can’t be too long, and can’t be too short. The definition of “too long” and “too short” is unclear. There also cannot be any stitching on the front or anything that can be felt from the inside. Pants must be soft sweatpants or leggings; they cannot have zippers, buttons, or any kind of seams that she can feel. Shorts can only be athletic shorts. Dresses, like shirts, cannot have elastic and must be the right length. Tags, of course, are a no-no. If the clothing isn’t tagless, than that sucker is getting cut off the minute we get home.

Let’s just say that we often walk out of stores without buying a thing, because they don’t have a lot of clothing stores designed for children who would rather be naked.

Most days my daughter can get dressed just fine because most of her clothes fit her needs, though woe to me when I let the laundry go too long and she is out of the one kind of underpants she likes. She’s tried to go commando before. (I was lucky to catch that one.) But the worst by far is shoes and socks.

Here’s the thing about socks. You know that seam that goes across the toes. Welcome to the reason for all sorrow in my house. That frickin’ seam has caused more meltdowns than anything else. So my solution, given that I have a finite number of days on this earth and don’t plan to devote any more of that time to sock seams, is that she doesn’t wear socks. Ever. Actually, the whole thing has made me start to wonder what socks are for in the first place. Is it so that your shoes won’t give you blisters? To absorb the smell? I don’t know, but my girl refuses to take part in the sock charade.

Shoes aren’t any easier. When I take my daughter shoe shopping, I bring a book and find a place to sit, because she is going to try on every single pair of shoes in her size and we are going to buy none of them. There’s always “a bump” or “a thing right here that I can feel.” On the rare occasion that she does find a pair of shoes she likes, I act like someone who is being offered another chance at love after having their heart broken one too many times. I am thrilled beyond what is appropriate, but also deeply suspicious.

So my daughter’s preferred style of dress is not unlike that of the bed-ridden elderly. She’ll be in a house dress and slippers any day now. Do any of you have kids who are sensitive to clothing? Can anyone relate?

(Photo: Dmitri Maruta / Shutterstock)