This 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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