Category Archives: clothing

Buttons, Zippers, Pockets, Collars, And Belts, Oh My!

I have two kids. My older one has SPD. My younger one doesn’t, but like many typical kids, he has tactile sensory sensitivities that are occasionally (okay, often) a nuisance. For instance, he doesn’t like having his hair combed. It’s been an issue since he was an infant. I’ve tried everything from using a hair detangler to distracting him with shiny objects and steak knives (kidding) to having him sing songs. A lot of times, I’ve just left his hair a tangled mess. As he approaches his sixth birthday, I feel him growing out of it, but boy has it been a journey!

Here’s another one. It’s a doozy. He loathes buttons, zippers, pockets, collars, belts, and any other item of clothing that isn’t a tagless, short-sleeved cotton t-shirt and mesh athletic shorts. This kid of mine is lucky he’s not a Kardashian. In other words, we keep things pretty casual in our family. We also live in a year-round warm climate, which lends itself to his personal style (or lack thereof).

The funny thing about his exasperating but common tactile challenge is that there was a time when his older brother, the one with SPD, WOULD NOT COULD NOT wear pants or long-sleeved shirts. (We now lovingly refer to that time as the Winter of Our Discontent.) Since he had an SPD diagnosis, though, he did a crap load of OT. These days, he’s still not a fan of dressing up, but he does it when it’s appropriate and necessary, and he also plays ice hockey…in full hockey gear!

My little guy, on the other hand, is a picky dresser of the worst kind, but without a diagnosis (is there a prescription for pain-in-the-butt-itis?) there isn’t much I can do except encourage, praise, bribe, and avoid Bar Mitzvahs.

A little over a year ago, I took him to my cousin’s wedding. It was a special weekend that included a super exciting airplane ride and a visit with Grandma and Grandpa, but I only agreed to take him if he swore on his life (pinky shake required) that he would dress appropriately. He whined and moaned, I had to buy him an extra-large pack of Trashies at the toy store, and he wore a super hero “button protector” (a t-shirt) under his “fancy” shirt, but, by golly, he did it.

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The rehearsal dinner

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The wedding

During the long ago Winter of Our Discontent, my older son WOULD NOT HAVE COULD NOT HAVE worn these kinds of clothes even if I promised him a Disney Cruise or the Lego Death Star. The difference, by the way, between a picky dresser and a sensory dresser (or a picky eater and a sensory eater) is CURRENCY. There is no currency – no bargaining, no negotiating, and no bartering – with a child whose body cannot physically, neurologically, and emotionally tolerate fabric touching his skin (or food entering his mouth).

In May of this year, my little guy managed to wear this outfit to his Pre-K graduation.

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The cap and gown was especially uncomfortable, but he got through it.

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In case you’re wondering, I’ve just documented the two occasions that I can remember when my little one wore shoes that weren’t sneakers or Crocs. And technically, the rehearsal dinner and wedding shoes were sneakers.

All summer long, I worried (of course) about Kindergarten because the kids go to a school that requires a school uniform. I joked nervously to friends and family (except I wasn’t really joking) that my little guy would be kicked out of school for not adhering to the uniform code. I imagined him systematically undressing himself at school, pulling buttons off of his shirt, throwing his belt out a window, and leaving a trail of undesirable clothing down the hallway. I cringed thinking about how difficult the mornings would be and how often I’d have to bribe him to get dressed and out the door on time. I dreaded having a kid who, instead of enjoying the wonder and delight of Kindergarten, would be perpetually and negatively focused on what he had to wear.

On the first day of school at approximately 6:45 a.m. in the morning, I was totally and completely blindsided.  My little guy stepped up big time. He got dressed like a champ (with a button protector, of course), and he did it with happiness and excitement about the day ahead.

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First day of Kindergarten.

He’s been getting dressed without any (major) meltdowns for three weeks. I’m all about living in the moment (ha!), so I’ve taken several deep breaths filled with pride and relief. Now, I have my sights (and anxiety) set on his outfit for Kindergarten graduation and his first Ted talk on the long-term positive (I hope) social and academic outcomes of young boys who watch 3-4 4-5 5-6 hours per week of toy reviews on YouTube.

I hope you’ve all had a great start to school – buttons, zippers, pockets, collars, and belts and all!

The Sensory Spectrum

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Five Maxes and Five Coins

Part 1: Five Maxes

Dylan has a lot of Maxes in his life.  Before Saturday night, there were four – two friends at school, one cousin in California, and one soul mate from Where The Wild Things Are.  After Saturday night, there were five.

Our good friends, including Dylan’s bestest friend, Sophia, who he plans to marry someday (and live with in a tree house in Texas), have a dog named Max.  He’s a sweet dog, but he happens to weigh about 900 90 pounds, which makes him more of a polar bear than a dog in Dylan’s eyes.  To put it mildly, Dylan is petrified of him.  He hasn’t stepped foot in their house in almost a year, except for one time when Max was sent on a sleepover and another time when Max was kept locked in the bedroom, which, if I recall, didn’t end well for the carpet.

On Saturday night, I convinced Dylan to go to their house.  I promised I would protect him from Max.  Dylan agreed to go if – and only if – he could play in Sophia’s room with the door closed.  Deal.  (Riley, by the way, has no major issue with the gentle giant.  Each time we go to their house, he simply reminds me not to let Max eat him.  Sure thing.)

The evening included a lot of holding and playing in Sophia’s room with the door closed, but by dinnertime, we sensed some bravery in Dylan when he agreed to sit as the table as long as Max was far away.  Progress!  A little while after that, it happened.  Dylan decided he was done being afraid of Max.  Just like that.  No big deal.  Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Max gives high fives on command?  In any case, he got off his chair and played with abandon the rest of night declaring Max the dog his new friend.  Do you remember when Dylan suddenly bounced?  I don’t know how or why, but another wall came crashing down, and let me tell you, it was priceless.

In case you’re wondering, he didn’t eat anything for dinner except a bagel and cream cheese.  Disappointing?  Sure.  But in the context of a night where he faced another fear and prevailed, it was hard to be too upset.

Part 2: Five Coins

I write incessantly about Dylan’s sensory issues, and it’s occurred to me that maybe you’ve wondered if Riley has any challenges, too.  Maybe not, but I’m telling you about it anyway because it’s my blog.  🙂  He has one sensory issue.  It’s tactile and it rears its ugly head with clothes.  It’s approximately 97.9% behavioral and 2.1% sensory, and it’s 100% a bitch.

He makes me cut tags out of all of his clothes, he won’t wear a shirt with a collar or buttons, and he protests long sleeves (but he wore them – and pants – in San Francisco when he was freezing his little butt off so I’m kinda on to him).

Pants must be soft.  Hoods and/or pockets that he can feel on the inside are strictly prohibited.  “Take your cargo pants and relaxed fit denim and shove them up your ass,” says Riley to anyone who will listen.

He’s one of those cool cats with a fashion uniform of mesh athletic shorts and a tagless graphic t-shirt.  This is fine for most three-year-old social situations, except for cold weather, bar mitzvahs and weddings.  He hasn’t been invited to a bar mitzvah or a wedding yet, but I worry about it (of course).  We’re not a fancy family.  I mean, I love to get dressed up, but it’s rare that – as a group – we go anywhere that Crocs are inappropriate.  Still, any chance I get, I try to dress Riley in something other than his bleeping mesh athletic shorts.

On Saturday night – the same night Dylan triumphed over his canine nemesis – I convinced begged and bribed Riley to wear a pair of Quicksilver shorts that have been collecting dust in his closet for about a year.  They’re not formal by any means, but they don’t scream physical education.  They still fit (phew), and…wait for it…they’re polyester with pockets.  I was screwed.

Surprisingly, he agreed to wear them on two conditions: he got to wear his batman t-shirt and I had to give him money.  Deal.

“I’ll give you a dollar if you wear these shorts all night.”

“No, I want money.”

“Riley, a dollar is money.”

“No, I don’t want a dollar.  I want money.”

“But a dollar is money.”

“No, it’s not.  I want money.”

This went on for a quite a while before I remembered I was conversing with a three-year-old.

“You want coins?”

“Yes!”

I gave him three pennies, a nickel, and a dime, and he wore the shorts all night long.

There you have it.  Five Maxes, five coins, and a reminder to never give up hope, this too shall pass, it’s always darkest before the dawn, after a hurricane comes a rainbow, and a cold glass of Pino Grigio goes a long way toward helping maintain sanity.  Either that or it takes the sting out of knowing that it’s long gone.

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