This is Day 8 in the series: 31 days on Living with ADHD, Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder: What We Have Tried, What Has Worked, What Hasn’t Worked, and Never Giving Up.
Clothes an be one of the hardest parts os dealing with sensory processing disorder and autism. It seems like everything bothers Mr Rockstar. He would prefer to run around in just his underwear/diaper since he was about 2 years old. Over the years he has transitioned between a number of different stages. Periodically these stages repeat.
It takes at least a month for Mr Rockstar to give up his shorts in the fall and his long “huggy” clothes in the spring. It can be 90F in June and he is still wearing head to toe black under-armor compression athletic gear. The winter after he turned three it took FOREVER for him to give up his shorts. He liked them so much he was sure everyone else really wanted short pants too….so he would sneak around and roll up people’s pants to “help” them.
Mr Rockstar goes through phases when he wants beautiful clothes and he raids my (or his sisters’) closet. Some of the motivation is he wants a skirt that will twirl when he dances (who doesn’t love a full twirling skirt?!?). He also loves fun colors and sparkles. I have to agree with him that most boys clothes are pretty dull in comparison to his sisters bedazzled outfits and shoes. When Mr Rockstar first started wearing some dresses/skirts it freaked us out. After talking with Mr Rockstar’s therapists we decided it wasn’t a big deal. Actually when he wears something he feels comfortable and beautiful in it calms him and makes him happy. It is some of his most peaceful times.
As he has gotten older the costumes have transitioned from being every day all day to about once a month when he is dancing/dressing up with his sisters. So if you have a boy who wants to dress up don’t fret too much or make a big deal about it! It is probably just a phase. In my first post of this series I talked about the show Parenthood. In that show the kid “Max” has high functioning autism and dresses up like a pirate all the time. The father is really concerned about the pirate costume and he sees the costume as being the problem. In reality the costume is an external symptom of an internal struggle the child is having. The solution is not to try and take away the costume which makes them feel safe and calm but rather find other ways for them to feel comfortable and calm and then they will voluntarily give up the costume.
Usually I don’t let the kids wear costumes out of the house but I did let Mr Rockstar wear the big blue Cinderella dress to school a time or two. If he had a rough few days at school and was dreading going, letting him wear his Cinderella dress made him excited to go to school and show his teacher. Thankfully his teacher was positive about it, allowed it, and didn’t make a big fuss about it. Hopefully you have an accepting community and they don’t give your kid a hard time. Frequently other kids make comments to Mr Rockstar. Usually he doesn’t see them as negative but sometimes they hurt his feelings. I don’t worry too much about what other kids say (as long as they aren’t bullying) since I think peer pressure can be a catalyst for him to decide he doesn’t need the costumes anymore.
Loose and Tight, Long and Short:
Mr Rockstar’s clothes are almost ALWAYS bothering him. He tends to like super loose clothes in the summer and super tight clothes in the winter. We found athletic compressive base layer clothes are his favorite in the winter. He calls these his “huggy” clothes since they “hug” him. When he can’t find a pair of his “huggy” pants he has been known to steal a pair of his sisters leggings and wear them even though they are 4 sizes too small!
Besides clothes being loose or tight, they have to be the PERFECT length for him to be happy. Shorts must be long enough so they come past his knees when he sits down (because he also likes the waist tight I usually end up buying long sweatpants and cutting them into shorts for him). Long sleeve shirts or pants can’t be too long or too short. All of this will drive you batty as a mom. Mr Rockstar picks out one or two pairs of clothes he wears over and over and over.
Because Mr Rockstar is so picky, buying clothes for him drives me crazy. Usually he likes something new just long enough for me to cut the tags off and then he never wears it again. I have considered just buying him a very small quantity of clothes. But usually I buy him a lot of clothes cheaply so I am ok with him only wearing a few favorites. One tip I have learned is coats, pants, and shirts with elastic in the sleeves are the bomb. They pretty much solve the “too long” problem so once I can buy a size too big and once I convince him he likes the new coat it can last forever.
Socks and Shoes:
Socks and shoes are a battle you will lose. Just don’t fight it. Mr Rockstar is barefoot most of the summer. When he does wear “shoes” in summer it is flip flops. In the winter we are lucky if we can get him to wear socks with his rain boots and the moment we “arrive” anywhere indoors he strips the shoes and socks off. Our best luck has been with flip flops in the summer and rain boots in the winter. Just realize most shoes will be a waste of money.
As Long As It Is Decent:
Whenever I am tempted to start a clothes battle with our kids I try to remember my one rule. “As Long As It Is Decent.” As long as it is decent they can wear it in public. I don’t try to make Mr Rockstar take off his princess dress, I don’t force Miss Princess to wear a coat, I usually don’t even require shoes unless we are going into a store that requires them, even if they wore the same outfit the last 2 days in a row and it is a little dirty but they REALLY want to wear it I let them. Maybe I am too permissive but it seems like there are so many other things we are dealing with on a daily basis that what the kids are wearing is pretty low on my priority list.
I am sure the clothing quirks will change over the years. Occasionally I hide the clothes we can’t stand as parents if he has a few good days but they always reappears when we have a few bad days. What are your kids clothing quirks?