Many individuals with autism possess a sensory sensitivity to certain clothing textures and fabrics, or experience sensitivity when they get their clothing wet, or spill something on it. They may experience hypersensitivity. This results in over-responsiveness to the type of clothing they are wearing or the wet spot or stain on it. It can then cause sensory overload, where there is too much sensory information coming into their brain that is difficult to process. This can create anxiousness, unease, and distraction. Sometimes, it is the only thing that the individual can focus on once the sensitivity is felt. It can create a barrier to engaging in any other activity when a child with autism is so distracted by the clothing sensitivity that they are dealing with that they cannot concentrate on anything else.
POSSIBLE CLUES THAT YOUR CHILD IS EXPERIENCING A SENSITIVITY:
● I am itching and scratching a lot
● I am agitated, fidgety, and/or upset
● I am constantly pulling at my clothing
● I am refusing to wear certain clothing due to its material, fit, seam, or color, etc.
HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD IF THEY ARE EXPERIENCING THIS:
● Try to empathize with me; think of how uncomfortable it may feel for me, some even describe it as feeling like pins and needles on their skin
● Prompt me to use coping strategies such as requesting a hug, counting to 10, taking a walk, getting a drink of water, etc. to help me calm down
● Talk to me about it and ask me to communicate what is bothering me if I am able
● If it is difficult for me to communicate with you or pinpoint what specifically is bothering me, then:
○ Try seamless socks and pants, soft, comfortable clothing, or possibly tight-fitted clothing if that is what I seem to like
○ Let me choose my clothes
○ Try different clothing and see how I respond
○ Remove tags from clothing
○ Ask for help from OT or ABA 🙂