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My friend’s son is very fussy when it comes to dressing. He is 5 years old and very sensitive to textures. He does not like wearing any dress with zippers, collar or textured fabric.
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I also agree that shopping at a used clothing store is a great idea. The clothes are worn and generally a little softer. If you're in the USA, Once Upon a Child is a great gently-used kids clothing store. There are always so many options there!
For new clothes, June and January is a great brand with very simple styles and the fabric is so soft. I highly recommend.
My one grandson was never diagnosed with a sensory disorder, but he displays some sensory issues such as being bothered by clothing and shoes and freaks out if he gets water on his face. So I think that he may have a low-level sensitivity issue, possibly like your child. It can be a struggle to get him to dress. Luckily, he is the youngest of 3 boys and wears loads of time-worn and softened used clothing, which helps.
This may be an odd recommendation but have they tried shopping at a used clothing store? I know that many options are like new, but some of the more worn items are pretty soft.
I agree with allowing the child to try on clothing before purchase. Then washing and removing tags will help.
Along these lines, you can buy tagless and soft clothing nowadays. Here is one option that may help: https://www.seamlessmorning.com/
Depending on the reasons for the sensitivity, I agree with the previous suggestions about allowing choice first and foremost to take away the daily struggle where possible. Occupational Therapists that I’ve worked with in the past have suggested that sensitivities to textures can be relieved when the muscles are warmed up. This might be through heavy lifting work or using the body to roll on the floor when the child wakes up in the morning to start the day.
It’s great that the family are listening and open to trying new ways to meet the needs for their child.
Even without a "diagnosis" of sensory processing disorder, it sounds as if your friend's son does have tactile sensitivities. This kind of sensitivity can be a form of sensory dysfunction which can lead to discomfort or even pain. What may be unnoticeable to one person, or mildly irritating to another can cause someone with a tactile sensitivity a lot of distress.
It is very important to recognise and acknowledge that what he is feeling is real and he is not exaggerating.An occupational therapist may be able to design a program to assist this young man to increase his tolerance and process the sensations he feels differently. Using a sensory brush (you can Google "Wilbarger Brushing Protocol") can also be extremely beneficial to kids and adults who have a tactile sensitivity.
In the interim, you can suggest the following:
- remove all clothing labels
- avoid clothing that has a rough texture that may rub or chafe
- buy a soft cotton button up shirt with a soft collar rather than a stiff collar
-ask a seamstress or tailor to make a formal or smart outfit with soft cottons or linen. An elasticised waist may work better than a waistband and zipper.
-for school concerts, perhaps his mom can organise un underlayer of clothing in a fabric that does not cause him any distress that he can wear beneath any costumes or outfits.
-make sure that you always have a spare pair of comfortable clothes on standby. he may be willing to dress up if he knows that immediately after an event, he can change into clothes that do not cause him discomfort.
Good luck to this mom. She may need to learn to adjust her expectations and find ways of compromising between comfort and presentability.
Even though you have mentioned that this is not a sensory processing issue, I think it is clear that this child is particularly sensitive to things that touch their skin. As frustrating as it is, there are certainly alternatives out there. A friend of mine has a child who is a dancer and he is very sensitive to the fabrics that we wears and the dance school have been able to come up with all kinds of alternatives. Things like 'jeans' with a stretchy waste that have decorative buttons sewn on rather than functional ones.
This child is also very young so there is a good chance that he will find it easier to deal with these sensitities as he gets older and in the meantime do whatever you can to help him feel comfortable. Its great that you have identified the things he doesn't like (such as zippers, collars etc). I also think its a great idea to take him shopping and let him pick out some clothes that he likes and is comfortable in.