Unscripted: Update on our clothing sensitivity journey
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Now I want to clarify. Some of you might be hearing this and say, so does she still have sensory issues? Yes, she does. Because you know what? On days when she’s dysregulated, when there’s a lot of excitement, when she has to wear something that’s a little out of the ordinary for something she is more sensitive to the way things feel. Even now when we go try on clothes at stores that match all of her visual filters, she’s still very, very hyper aware of every seam, every place on her body that the sleeve touches that she wants it to touch exactly to her wrist. She’s very particular about what she wants and needs. Luckily, we’ve been able to find stuff that fits those requirements. But like I said, her tactile sensitivity is still there. We’ve just been in a good routine of managing it and accommodating it so that our days are not ruled by this, so that it’s no longer an impact to our functioning. Welcome to the Sensory Wise Solutions podcast for parents where parents can get real actionable strategies to support kids with sensory processing disorder. I’m Laura, OT and mom to Liliana, a sensory sensitive kid who inherited my anxiety and my love for all things Disney. Consider me your new OT mom, bestie. I know my stuff, but I also know what it’s really like in the trenches of parenting a child with sensory processing disorder.
Speaker 2 (01:30):
Okay, mom, enough about me. Let’s start the podcast.
Speaker 1 (01:36):
Welcome back to the podcast everyone. This is an unscripted episode, an update on our clothing sensitivities, our clothing issues. I’m going to give a quick background of where we’ve come from, but if you want to hear behind the scenes of what it used to be like in the thick of our clothing battles before school, like our morning routines, then head to episode 32, so that’s the ot butterfly.com/ 32. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes. We’ve come a long way. We’ve come a long way. So here’s a quick background information. So Liliana is now five and a half, more than five and a half. She’ll be six in July. And clothing sensitivities are probably have been our most pressing, our most impacting, sensory sensitive quality that she has been dealing with. And it did not start when she was really young. It only started to become an issue, like a bigger issue probably when she was around four, when she was in a pre-K program.
So some of the issues were, well, Sox was a very big one, so seams of her socks. And then there was also the feeling of two layers of clothes. So anytime she had to wear a jacket over long sleeves, which I get but the really, really fun part about it is, aside from the way that it makes her feel from a sensory perspective, a touch perspective, she developed this rigid preference of colors and designs of clothing where she didn’t want to wear clothes that matched. So if her shirt was pink, her pants couldn’t be pink, and she didn’t wear the color brown. There was so many different filters that I almost, I can’t even talk about without my eyes twitching because it was so rough. So I want to unscripted. So there’s going to be a lot of tangents here. After hearing this unscripted episode, you’re going to be like, oh, I get why the other ones are scripted now, because I jump all over the place.
So I’m going to share where we’re at now, which is almost no daily battles. I wouldn’t say there’s no sensory sensitivities. We have just found a rhythm, a routine. I have gotten clear with my boundaries that she understands. We have worked through it all. So we have something that works for us right now. And the biggest thing that has helped the biggest life hack of all that, I don’t even know when we will not need it, and I’m fine if she continues like this for the rest of her life, is getting dressed the night before in her school clothes that she’s going to wear the next day. This has saved us so many different, so many meltdowns. Before this, I had come up with a bunch of fun motivating activities to help her get dressed in the morning but that became exhausting. And those turned into a routine, a rigid routine of its own, which as you know, for some parents of neurodivergent kids can become a whole new problem.
So it’s funny because for a while I knew of this hack, but she was never willing to do it. And it was only until, I think it was, was it pajama day? I think it was pajama day at school where she woke up and she thought it was so funny that she didn’t have to get dressed and could just go to school in her pajamas. And I said, you know, can do this for school clothes. You can sleep in your school clothes the night before. And she was still hesitant and didn’t really want to try it, but I got her to try it one night, and then the next day we had, it was just a smooth morning. So I pointed all that out and now it’s just been part of the routine. She pushed back for a little bit after a while cause she was like, I love wearing my pajamas.
Can I wear pajamas to sleep tonight? And I had to ask her, sure, you can wear pajamas tonight, but in the morning, I don’t have time to help you get dressed. I know on school day mornings you usually need a little bit more help from mommy than you do on the weekends. I won’t have time to help you tomorrow morning because I’m going to be getting your breakfast ready. So if you can get ready by yourself in the morning without mommy standing in your room, then sure, you can wear pajamas tonight and we’ll just pick out your clothes for tomorrow. And she thought about it and she was like, no, I don’t think I can do that. And I’m like, okay, great, then let me help you get dressed right now. And so she has more clarity with my boundaries and I’m able to have that conversation with her where I’m like, listen, are you going to be able to do this tomorrow or not?
So I would’ve given her the chance to show me if she said, yeah, I can do it tomorrow. And then if the next day she wasn’t able to hold up her part of the deal, I probably would’ve said, we’re going back to this other way. So I want to highlight a lot of that. A lot of the reason why things have gotten better with her is I have gotten clearer, stronger with my boundaries, with explaining my boundaries and with me accepting that she’s not going to be happy about those boundaries. And the longer I stuck to that, the more consistent I was, the more she just knew that this was part of the routine. If you think about it, all of the routines that our kids get stuck in, the ones that we dislike, all of the habits and the things that have, maybe we did something fun one time where we allow them to do this one time, and then it just became a habit and now you’re like, oh, I don’t know how to get them out of that habit.
It became a habit because they did it often. And so they can unlearn that habit and relearn a new one that you can set up. And yeah, there’s going to be a rough patch and there’s going to be pushback, but I am at the other side of it. There is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s doable. So where we’re at right now. So she still very, very much prefers the bombas socks. B O M B A S. I will try to put a link in the show notes. It is a seamless sock company and I, I’m a little nervous because I soon have to transition her to the bigger size, which I already have right now. I think they only have a youth size and a toddler size, and they’re just such a big discrepancy. She does not the youth size because it’s too big, but the toddler size is really barely clinging onto the back of her heel.
It’s so small. So those are the tried and true socks that work for us that are seamless for her. Before that, I had tried regular socks that I would turn inside out, but because of her rigidity about the way things looked, she was not cool with socks that were inside out. Also, she still mixes and matches her socks. So bombas socks have a lot of quirky designs. So stripes, zigzags, polka dots and different colors on each sock. She will not wear two matching socks. So that’s a fun little quirk about her. So she still has that, but socks are no longer an issue when we use those. She can wear long sleeved shirts with jackets if I show her the weather app. So this has been another trick for us is taking the response, the blame off of me. I had to dig deep into my parenting brain and try to debunk a lot of the myths that I grew up with in a Filipino household.
Maybe it’s not a Filipino thing, but my Filipino parents were very, very strong on the fear-based parenting type stuff to me. So they would say, oh, if you sleep with your hair wet, you’re going to catch the flu or catch pneumonia. If you go outside and you don’t wear a jacket, you’re going to get a cold. And I feel like I knew that that wasn’t the case, but I had to consult with a few pediatricians who were like, no, you cannot catch a virus from being cold. The only thing you need to worry about in cold temperature is if you live in a place where frostbite or hypothermia is a concern. So I had to come up with a, I had to get rid of my whole thought of, oh my gosh, it’s freezing. I’m freezing. She must be freezing. She has to wear a jacket.
I had to get rid of that whole thing. And yes, there’s also the idea of all the social pressure from parents when you’re walking to school and I’m bundled up and five layers and she’s walking in shorts and a t-shirt and then parents look at me like, Ooh, isn’t she cold? I had to completely tunnel vision that and say that’s they don’t know my child’s body. I don’t know my child’s body. If she says she’s not cold or if she doesn’t want to wear a jacket, she doesn’t have to. I rely on objective factors. If her teeth were chattering and if she had goosebumps and she was shaking, I would say, it’s time for you to put on a jacket. But she honestly, I feel like she just runs hot because she’s never cold. She never shows signs of being cold. And we live in Southern California, so we are never at risk for hypothermia here.
So I took that pressure off of me during the winter when I was like, it’s really cold. I think you should wear a jacket instead. I showed her how to look at the weather on one of our Google homes, one of those screens that she can access in the hallway. And I told her to look at the weather, and I said, in the morning, so we’ll look at tomorrow, I’ll look at the seven o’clock, eight o’clock, nine o’clock hour, which is when we are walking to her classroom when she has outdoor playtime. And I say, if you see a four as the first number, so meaning in the forties, I say, you need to bring a jacket to school. That’s my rule. It’s never going to be below 40 here in Southern California at that time in the morning. So far it hasn’t. And if it’s in the fifties, then it’s, it’s fine.
And I’m not saying wear a jacket, I’m saying, you need to bring a jacket because she even refuses to bring a jacket sometimes. So now I don’t even tell her. She looks at the app, she knows what time to look for. She knows if it’s in the forties, she has to bring a jacket. And more often than not, she’s been putting on her jacket herself. And I taught her the trick of long sleeves where you pull the sleeves down so you can hold it in your fist so that when you put the jacket on, it kind of stays in the length thinning position if you know what I’m talking about. So that’s been helpful. So between the jacket issue and the socks issue, those were our main tactile sensory things with the vision of things, the way that things looked like, the stripes, the patterns.
I probably spent a few weeks a whole month of buying things and returning things and it was very frustrating. And I had to have a sit down talk with her. I brought out the whiteboard and I made a list of all of her preferred things in clothes. And I showed her how there’s too many things on her list in order for me to find a shirt that matches that or pants that match that. And I was telling her, these pants don’t exist, because she was like, it has to be this color, it has to feel like this. No pockets, this, this and this. And I’m like, great. You know what? When you grow up, you can be a fashion designer and create all of the clothes that you would like. Right Now, they don’t have that at Target, and they don’t have that at Old Navy, which is where we shop for clothes, because those are the most comfortable ones for you.
So I had to get her to realize that we are not going to be able to meet all of her requests. So I made it a rule, another concrete rule, and this is just the thing that worked for us. So let’s say she had a list of six filters is what I call them for her pants. And I said, the main filters we have to check off are that it fits you and that it feels comfortable. And then I said, your other filters, the color, the design, if there’s pockets, what the garter looks like, what all of those things I say, we can maybe pick two of those things to meet. So if we can check off four out of eight of these boxes, then we are going to get those pants and we are going to work on them until you feel comfortable. And that’s how I laid it out to her.
I wrote down all of the lists and we ordered pants and we checked them off the list each time we tried them on. And guess what? There were pants and there were shoes, and there were jackets that didn’t meet all of the requirements. And guess what? She was not really happy about it. And I was able to say, oh, remember the list? I told you this is what we’re going to do. I am going to make the decision for us that we are going to get these pants. I know you’re not about it. It’s also my job to make sure that you have clothes that you can wear to school that cover your legs when it’s too cold. So I restated my boundary, why I had to keep that boundary and I let her be upset about it, and we worked on it, and she came around.
So we found enough clothes to fit for days of the week that she needed it for different kinds of weather for all of her, for most of her visual preferences. There were a few shirts that were not in the color that she wanted, and we worked through it, and now they’re part of her daily routine. So that’s been amazing. I truly feel like we’re in a way better spot for it. And then on the weekends, it’s so interesting, on the weekends, on Saturday, usually Saturdays, she goes to my mom’s house. My mom lives about 20 minutes away. We drop her off in the morning. She spends a whole day there, and we pick her up at night after dinner. It’s another break that my husband and I get during the week. My so Liliana wears the same outfit every single week, probably for the past six months.
It’s like a uniform that she wears to my parents’ house. And at first I was like, oh, is this going to be a problem? But then I thought about it and I said, you know what? All week, I’m pretty much, I’m not really fully in control of her clothing, but she doesn’t get to wear what she wants to wear. This is familiar for her. This is safe. This is regulating for her. She doesn’t have to think about what she’s wearing. I’m all for it. So she wears the same light blue long dress to my mom’s house every single week, and I’ve just let go of that and that works for us. Now, I want to clarify. Some of you might be hearing this and say, so does she still have sensory issues? Yes, she does. Because you know what? On days when she’s dysregulated, when there’s a lot of excitement, when she has to wear something that’s a little out of the ordinary for something she is more sensitive to the way things feel.
Even now when we go try on clothes at stores that match all of her visual filters, she’s still very, very hyper aware of every seam, every place on her body that the sleeve touches that she wants it to touch exactly to her wrist. She’s very particular about what she wants and needs. Luckily, we’ve been able to find stuff that fits those requirements. But like I said, her tactile sensitivity is still there. We’ve just been in a good routine of managing it and accommodating it so that our days are not ruled by this so that it’s no longer an impact to our functioning. So the last time I actually tried to get OT services for her was when she was in pre-K and we were having these kinds of morning battles daily. It was a meltdown every single day. That’s when I was like, we need ot.
This is no long. This is impacting our daily function. If you’ve ever heard me talk about ot, when is it time for me to seek support for my child? My answer is always, it depends on how much it’s impacting your daily function. At that time in our lives in Pre-K when she was not wearing socks with her shoes, she was wearing the same shirt every day and it was getting smaller and smaller, and we were running out of things to wear. I was like, you need to be an ot. This is now impacting our function, our daily function.
Spoiler alert, we never got OT because our insurance stinks. So I did what I know best, but I was putting it off because I was at a place where I was not mentally capable, but I knew the just right challenge would help us. It’s the program, the home program that I use in my FR Stress to Dressed guide for parents. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes if you want to check it out. I am the person to talk about clothing sensitivities in sensory kids. I know what to do. I’ve worked with hundreds of families on this. I just didn’t want to do it myself, and that’s fair. I didn’t want to do it. So I wanted her to be in OT to do it, didn’t get services. So I started to do that a little bit myself, and I started to notice some progress.
But then when I finally got her to switch over to changing at night, it was a whole new ballgame, and that just gave me more space to work on, like the boundary setting to give her the emotional regulation piece to level set where we were with clothing. And since then, it’s been amazing. But yes, she is still technically tactile sensitive. I still notice things daily of how she talks about the way things feel on her skin. She’s just, I think, better able to express it and better able to be know what regulates her and what disregulates her. But again, if you have a child who is very sensitive to the feeling of clothing on their skin, you can check out my podcast episode with an accompanying blog. And then also the link to the program is in there if you want to join if you want to grab the from Stress to Dressed Home Program after reading some of the tips, it’s all there.
So that is from episode 39. So if you go to the ot butterfly.com/ 39, it’ll link you to the blog post with some tips and also can show you how to grab the program if you have a child who is sensory sensitive and clothing is one of their main triggers. All right, that is the end of this unscripted episode. Thanks for bearing with me with through all the ums and the tangents. But I hope overall that it was helpful to hear that we are through what I hope is the worst of it. We will see. I might have to make a future unscripted episode if we have another rough patch, which is totally common in Neurodivergent kids. But for now, I’m taking this as a win, and I hope that you all have many wins in your future as well. I’ll talk to you next week. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider rating it and leaving a review, which helps other parents find me as well. Want to learn more from me. I share tons more over on Instagram at the OT Butterfly. See you next time.
From Stressed to Dressed Guide
If you have a child who has sensitivities to the way that clothes fit, the way that fabrics feel to the point where they won’t wear certain clothes, this guidebook will provide a step-by-step program at home to help add variety to their closet and hopefully decrease your daily clothing battles.
- Behind the scenes morning routine clothing challenge
- Grab the from stressed to dressed clothing guide
- Blog post on clothing sensitivity
- Episode transcript: https://www.theotbutterfly.com/podcast
- The OT Butterfly Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theotbutterfly
- Work with Laura: https://www.theotbutterfly.com/parentconsult