Yes, deep down we probably all hate pants.
Who doesn’t enjoying peeling off their pants and slipping into pajamas (or strip down to their boxers in my guys’ cases) once they get home for the day?
But what if wearing pants didn’t just make you slightly irritated, it made your entire insides want to crawl out of your skin and run away screaming?
That, my friends, is what it’s like at times for my SPD kiddos!
The change of season can be a beautiful time of year. The weather gets cooler (or warmer) and you begin to look forward to all the things a new season brings … unless you have sensory processing disorder.
Clothing + Sensory Processing Disorder looks a little something like this:
Pants touch your whole legs—why?!!!
Shorts feel much better; they only touch half your legs. Let’s wear shorts even when it’s 40 degrees out!
Socks have to be seamless because seams are the devil. I have two pairs of socks I actually like, so I can just wear those every day, right?
Socks only have to be worn with sneakers, but sneakers take forever to put on and touch my entire foot, so can’t we get rid of both?
Flip-flops are awesome, let’s wear them year round … in New England.
Did you cut off my tags? I swear I feel tags!!!
Did you cut off anything that remotely resembles the bit of tag stuck inside the seam? You must remove all traces before my skin jumps off my body!
Again, why does everything have to have seams? Seams are awful! Don’t touch me, seams!
Why are you making me change again? I want to wear this even though it makes no sense and you’ve sent me upstairs to change three times!
Is this fabric smooth? Is it soft? Is it at all rough, crunchy, stiff or potentially upsetting?
Get it off! Get it off! Get it off!
Sensory Processing Disorder is a neurological disorder in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding typically to stimuli. This can result in stimulus avoidance or stimulus seeking. SPD isn’t just an indulgence in preferences, it’s a life-influencing disorder that can cause total nervous system meltdowns.
For kiddos with SPD, the change of seasons can be like scheduled torture. They spend months adjusting to one season only for another to come around. Unfortunately, my guys live with 4 very distinct seasons that vary greatly in New England, which means they have some pretty harsh transitioning to do every few months. They’re not fans!
It All Started…
Our SPD journey began when our oldest was a baby. As soon as he could communicate likes or dislikes he began to show clear preferences for super soft materials. The more he grew, the more aware we became of his sensory issues. People laughed when they watched me shop for clothing for him as I touched the fabrics to check for any textural issues, checked the seams to make sure they weren’t super thick or pokey and made sure everything overall had some give.
Then our second son came along. He was actually even more disturbed by different textures in clothing, foods, on his hands, etc.
I should have seen it coming! My husband has always had some serious sensory issues as well, so the writing was on the wall.
The older they got, the more they were able to vocalize what they liked and what they couldn’t possibly handle touching their skin–though the absolute meltdowns beforehand gave us some clues (I say that with sarcasm). Both boys also had other sensory issues including foods and sounds, but those are topics for another post.
The worst clothing transition for our oldest has got to be the change from shorts to pants and t-shirts to jackets. Even though he’s 11, we still have to have discussions (or arguments) for weeks into the cooler seasons about why it’s inappropriate to wear shorts and t-shirts once it’s below 60 degrees out.
Some days I’d rather step on a LEGO than have that 5-10 minute discussion on the merits of wearing pants when it’s cold out. I’m completely convinced it would be less painful!
On the other hand, our youngest would wear jeans and a long-sleeve button-up year-round if we allowed him. It’s like living in the twilight zone sometimes!
If we lived somewhere a bit more temperate I’d be a little more lenient, but our temps drop so low starting in October (not to mention the super soggy weather) that it just isn’t healthy to be walking around outside in summer clothing. On the same note, temps can reach 100 in the summer and sweating until you pass out in your winter wardrobe isn’t a great option either.
And don’t get me started on the whole “Why can’t I wear flip flops year-round?” deal we have to go over with my oldest 6 months out of the year.
My Best SPD Advice
So what’s a sensory mom to do when the weather changes?
Well, as brutal as it can be, my only advice is to hang in there. Some aspects, from my experience, get a little better with time.
Try to find brands, cuts and fabrics that work for your sensory kiddo and then buy multiples of everything. If I find a shirt, pair of pants or type of sock that the boys love and don’t argue every step of the way over I buy several in different colors.
Some brands are definitely better quality and more sensory-friendly that others, in my experience.
When it comes to socks and boxers we’ve found Hanes to be one of the softest, most seam-free brands out there!
We tend to like a combo of the new Built-In Flex jeans from Old Navy for our oldest along with the comfy track pants that are in-trend from Adidas and Under Armour.
For our youngest, Gymboree has some of the only slim jeans that are actually small enough to fit him, so he wears a combo of those and the same comfy track pants our oldest wears—though it can be hard to find ones that are narrow enough at the waist.
Shirts generally have to come from moderately expensive brands in order to be soft enough for my guys to wear, which can be a little bit of a pain. We don’t purchase from a singular brand, but I do have to inspect the shirts and then have them try them on before purchasing if I want to avoid many returns.
If I buy something that they can’t stand having on their skin, they find the most magical ways of making them disappear. I don’t know where they go or how they do it, but I never see the clothing again. They could give Criss Angel a run for his money!
For those that don’t have kiddos with sensory processing disorder, this may sound like a case of picky, over-indulged children. I assure you, that isn’t the case.
Trust me, if there was a way I could get around their sensory issues without having to put so much time, money and effort into seasonal transitions and finding the right clothes, I would! But until you’ve seen a sensory kiddo writhe in anguish while having a complete nervous system break down … you have no idea how difficult it really is for them.
I think the statement that hits the biggest nerve is the always-delightful, “Oh, my son/daughter is exactly like that. It’s nothing special.”
Interesting. Well, either your son or daughter has a sensory processing issue that you haven’t addressed or you’re not fully understanding just how intense and all-encompassing the problem is.
When people make remarks like that I generally smile and move on. Who has time for that?
If you have sensory kiddos and you find other people judge you, dismiss you or insinuate that your kids are just spoiled, shake it off and keep on moving! Who cares if someone else can’t be bothered to understand what your child needs or has to cope with? At the end of the day, you have more important things to worry about than someone else’s opinions of your parenting.
We all know unsolicited parenting advice and opinions are as plentiful as pumpkin spice lattes in fall, so don’t waste energy worrying about them!
If you ever feel alone in this issue and just need somewhere to vent, comment below or find us on social media. We’re always down to talk SPD!
Do you have a child with sensory processing disorder? What do you find most difficult? What brands work the best for you?