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OT Corner: Ouchy, Itchy, Scratchy, Ewey! – Ideas for Kids with High Sensitivity to Clothing

All material Copyright © 2010 Smart Knit Kids This article is reprinted with the express permission of Smart Knit Kids
By: Kam Howard
Editor’s Note: This article is written more for parents than therapists, but we are featuring it this week as something you might like to reprint and give to the parents of your kiddos.
The dreaded morning routine
Tags are scratchy, shirt or jean seams “hurt,” and awful sock seams feel like lumps and bumps in shoes. Who knew something as simple as getting dressed could throw a household’s whole morning routine into a tale-spin ending with lots of tears, missed buses, and being late for school or work.
As a mom of a highly sensitive child, I had many of those dreaded mornings when my daughter was younger. I had no idea that there were other parents out there struggling with the same issues. I dealt with it the best I could, even if it meant taking off and putting the socks on 6 times or changing shirts 4 times because they “hurt” — both her and I were in tears. I kept telling myself it was a phase and we would get through it.
“Nuggies,” “No-No Knots,” and “Ouchies”
Children who are sensitive to touch sensations can be easily overwhelmed by ordinary daily activities. It is the way in which their nervous system interprets a tactile stimulus and they may find clothes uncomfortable. The seams, the fit, and the fabric texture can be culprits of pain. As professionals, you have heard probably heard many similar stories. “My daughter battles me every morning” or “socks and clothing are very uncomfortable and impossible.” To these little ones those lumps and bumps, that even adults sometimes find bothersome, downright hurt. While therapy is recommended, there are some proactive helpful tips that may come in handy for these sensitive kiddos and their morning routine.
Fabric Softener
Soak, wash and re-wash as many times as needed so clothing textures are softer and smoother to the touch.
There is a reason why sensitive children love to wear the same items over and over. They are “broken in” and softer to their skin. So pulling out the hand-me-downs from big brother or sister or even buying from a consignment shop can ease their worries of scratchy fabrics.
Free from Tags and Seams
More and more clothing out on the market today are tagless or seamless. Buy ultra soft tees with no tags or seamless socks or clothing.
Go Undercover
Help disguise those annoying seams and textures with a soft, compression under shirt. The compression may provide some calm deep pressure while offering a layer of comfort against the skin. Or make a stop at the fabric store. Let them pick their favorites and they could be sewn into clothes that they need to wear such as school uniforms or on the waist of jeans.
Empower Them
Give them choices. Help your child understand what textures bother them or better yet what feels good. Include them in a “Treasure Hunt” shopping trip where they get to touch and feel as much or as little as they want. It may be a lengthy trip so make it as stress-free and fun as possible. If they find one thing they love, you have struck gold.
A Little TLC
Remember patience, while not always easy, will pay off in the end. Remind them that there a lot of people who are sensitive to clothing. Reassure them that you understand and are working to make it better
While these small steps may help it is only part of the solution. They do not serve as a substitute for working with Occupational Therapists and other professionals who can then work with the parents and children to address any underlying causes and integrate solutions into therapy. Giving parents as many tools as possible reassures them that they are not alone in helping their child make it through their day successfully.
Featured Authors and Organization:  Smart Knit Kids
We thank Smart Knit Kids for allowing PediaStaff to reprint their article.
Smart Knit Kids manufactures and sells patented seamless socks are perfect for children experiencing sensory processing differences, hypersensitivity or who simply can’t stand annoying seams! These super soft socks for sensitive little feet will not wrinkle or bunch and are proven to reduce irritation.
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PediaStaff hires pediatric and school-based professionals nationwide for contract assignments of 2 to 12 months. We also help clinics, hospitals, schools, and home health agencies to find and hire these professionals directly. We work with Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational and Physical Therapists, School Psychologists, and others in pediatric therapy and education.


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