No Long-Sleeved Shirts Please!

No Long-Sleeved ShirtsThis is Stevie, here. I am 10 years old and I do not like to wear clothes. Now that summer is turning fast to a chilly autumn, everyone is worried I will be cold.  They want me to wear sweatshirts or coats, or long sleeve shirts.  I do not want to wear long sleeves. I’d rather be cold than put up with having sleeves on my arms.  Sleeves get in my way, and they are a constant irritant. When I do wear them, I push them up  high above my elbows anyway!  A lot of good that does, and then my elbows are not comfortable either.

When I was little, my skin was covered with an itchy painful rash. It was on my forehead, my eyes, my chin and cheeks. My arms, legs and tummy were covered too. And what was the worst was the tops of my feet!  I couldn’t even wear shoes because they would tie or velcro right on top of the itchy spots! It was horrible

I even remember my eyes itching. I would scratch them in my sleep and then they would hurt so I cried. My mom would come and try to stop me from scratching my eyes.  I think that is when they had me tested for food allergies.  I have a lot of those, it turns out.

One of my allergies is latex.  Do you know how many clothes have latex in them? My mom even found out some of the socks I had? Were made with latex! No wonder I didn’t like socks!  The bands of my underwear had latex, and my carpet was backed with latex.  It was no wonder I was so itchy before we removed all those things!

Even with avoiding latex and the food that makes me sick, my skin is still itchy. Sometimes when I scratch it, the skin will rise up and then it itches even more!  I pinch and twist it to “scratch” the itch so I don’t hurt myself with my nails.  Sometimes I can’t stand to be in my own skin at all, let alone wear clothes on top of it.  That is like wearing 2 skins and it makes no way to get to the itchy spots when they bother me.

When I need to scratch a spot, I will do anything to get to it. I don’t care where I am, I will take off my clothes so I can scratch.

Sometimes loose clothes, like t-shirt sleeves, will lightly brush up against my arm and that makes me cringe. It is like the worst kind of tickle—that light one. I like the deep kind but not the lighter, bugs-crawling-on-me kind.

My mom got me a new kind of shirt that’s stretchy and tight fitting.  I liked that because it doesn’t get in my way.  It doesn’t bad-tickle me either. The only problem is that because it’s tight, it is also hard to get off!  And when I need it off, I need it off right away, so I can scratch all the itches.  I am getting better at asking for help at school now, instead of getting mad and ripping my clothes off. I always ask my mom or dad for help, but since they aren’t at school, I never thought to ask there. But now I do. It’s much better to ask for help than to get really upset.

I just don’t see why I can’t wear the same things all year long.  Short-sleeved shirts and shorts in the winter would be fine with me.  Sure, it’s cold, but that’s ok. I will just be super-fast when I’m getting to and from the bus!  It’s warm inside. So if I layer up and dress for the outside, then I get overheated in the inside. There is just no winning.  I would rather be cold than hot though.  Plus, it is kinda fun to hop off the bus after school wearing shorts when it’s snowing out. My mom always says something about that when I do it. It makes me smile because I’m proud of myself for being me and getting away with it.

This post is written by Stevie's mom, giving voice to Stevie as best she could. This may not represents reality, just his mom's perspective of what her son with autism's reality may be. 

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Stevie’s Perspective on Grocery Shopping

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I love going shopping. Grocery stores are my favorite. I used to like riding in the car-carts, where I can drive while my mom pushes the cart, but now I am too big. I tried to fit in one last year, but it wasn't at all like I remembered it. My knees went up to my chin and I was so squished! I wanted to make it work, but then I realized I had grown too big and there was no chance I could ride in one of those again.

These days, when I get to explore a store, I like to stand on the bar under the cart and hang on to the handle to ride. My mom walks behind me, with her hands on the bar as well, kind of caging me in. I like the feeling of my arms pulling me up to the bar-handle. I use my shoulder muscles to do that. I don't usually notice those muscles but when I ride a cart, I do and I like that feeling.  I get tired easily though, and then I like to lean back on my mom. Then I can relax and she holds me up. She doesn't appreciate that too much though and keeps telling me to "use my own muscles!".

When I get to ride on the cart by standing on the bottom bar and holding onto the top, I am taller than my mom. I can see so much of the store, and I get to feel the wind against my face if my mom is moving fast. It reminds me of my dads Miata. I loved riding in that car with the top down. The breeze against my face blows me into my happy place. I could stay there all day. Sometimes when I cry, the only thing that can calm me down is wind in my face. My mom sometimes gets the blow drier and blows my tears away with the "cool" setting. I like that a lot. It makes me giggle. And then my tears are off my face and my face is dry again. Like it's supposed to be.

When I am shopping and the air blows against my face while I have a fast ride in that cart, an unusual thing happens.  The people in the store always smile at me! When I am that happy, so happy that I can't stop smiling, everyone else seems to be happy too.  When I see them smile at me, I smile even more. I like to make people happy.

I also like to buy things, like Annie's Bunnies.  One time, I tried to get every single box off the shelves and put them in our cart. My mom said to only take 2 because other people might want some. I didn't like that idea because I want all of them--just in case. I really wanted to eat every single package of Bunnies in the store. I know it's a lot, but I like them a lot.  And sometimes its the only thing I will eat. I don't want to run out, so I want all of them.

But still, my mom said no. I almost got mad because I wanted them all, but my mom said that if we just get 2, then when we need more we can come back to the store to get more of them then. That was a good idea, because then there would be some here to buy. Plus, that means I get to come to the store again!  So I let her get away with limiting me to just 2 boxes.

I love going through the check out, too. My mom lets me load the food on the belt, and then it moves toward the person who scans every single thing we buy. They run it over glass and the computer screen shows how much it costs.  I like to see the numbers especially when there are more than one thing with the same price on it. Like the 2 boxes of Annie's Bunnies. It will say, "Annie's Bunnies....$3.59" and right under it will be the exact same thing" Annie's Bunnies .... $3.59". Imagine if I was allowed to buy all those boxes on the same day! There would be like 15 lines in a row that match!

I like the beeping too.  Every time something slides over the glass, it beeps. Sometimes the cashier gets  rhythm going with the beeps if she's sliding things real fast. Sometimes the other registers beep loud enough for me to hear that beep too. It's like a background music for the store.  That bothers me sometimes, and then I just plug my ears. But usually, I don't mind. I kind of expect that noise so it doesn't bother me as much.

When it is time to go, after the groceries are all paid for and put into bags, we always walk by a giant sign that says, "Thank You For Shopping at the Standish Hannaford!"  It always has the name of the town in it. In Portland, it says, "Thank you for shopping at the Portland Hannaford!".

I love seeing those signs when I leave the store. I always read it out loud--very loudly like it's a chant or a song. People in the store like it when I do that too. I know because they always smile at me when I do it.  I know I can count on seeing that sign no matter what Hannaford I go to. It's like the icing on the cake of the shopping trip.

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Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop -- a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it's like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo!

Want to join in on next month's Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!