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. 

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!

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Sensational Successes

Sensational SuccessesThis past month has been an attention grabber. It seems every time I turn around, there is another great improvement my son has made staring me in the face.  Both my boys with autism have changed remarkably since they were toddlers.  So for this post, I want to focus on all the improvements—things I never thought I’d see—to offer some encouragement and hope to those of you who are in the trenches wondering if it will always be as hard as it is right now.

Here are a few highlights of the great gains Stevie has made:

* Stevie used to refuse to walk under a ceiling fan or hanging lights.  They terrified him!  He wouldn't even walk under a hanging light or fan to get to me if I was on the other side.  He'd start to walk, then stare at the fan dangling down as if it were just floating in air ready to crash upon his fragile frame at any minute. For the longest time, I had to pick him up to carry him past the Terminator-fans (and lights).

And here he is today:

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*  Stevie has always been very tactile defensive. He didn’t like soft touches—or if he did, it ticked him..a lot!  Because of his defensiveness, he would NEVER pick blueberries with us. He would come, and he would play in the nice, neat rows the orchard provided but he would not pick the blueberries. Reaching in to the bushes, past all those branches that scrape across his sensitive arms…it was just too much. And for what? He wouldn’t touch a blueberry with a 10 foot pole! It’s food. It’s a food he doesn’t eat.

Yet last weekend he did this:11855733_10206384260780417_1338278855031120380_n

*Stevie had gravitational insecurity when he was a preschooler. He was afraid to move. He wanted to be carried everywhere.  He would scream on a swing. He would not climb stairs to go on a slide.  If he were in a sand box, he would not step out of it. He would wait for someone to pick him up. He took forever to walk down stairs on his own. He always wanted to be carried.

And here is him last week:

(Click the picture to watch him in action!)

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*Stevie is very sensitive to sounds, and would benefit from noise reducing headphones, but he won’t tolerate wearing them. Sometimes this leads to him becoming overstimulated and overwhelmed, often ending in meltdowns.  This week we went to an amusement park. We didn’t know how Stevie would handle it. Last time we went (which was several years ago) he had a hard time coping with all the sudden sounds, clunks and bangs and screeching children.  He was too little to ride any of the "real" roller coasters, but this year he is tall enough for most things. For his first roller coaster experience, he wanted to try  the biggest roller coaster in the park!  All the while I was thinking, "What if he decides half way through it that he wants out?" Bad scenes played out in my mind, but... he loved it! He wanted to ride it over and over. Who knew?

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Stevie is in the first car, back seat with the hat!

Never say never, that is my motto.  Sometimes I am tempted to think some of the other sensory issues are not going to change, like his self-imposed severe food restrictions, for example.  Although he is severely restrictive, he is making progress… from slapping food out of my hand if he didn’t like the look or smell of it, to being able to let us eat what we want, and sometimes, he even peers over the table to look at it!  One time, he want to play at the table but it hadn’t been cleared yet. He actually touched Joy’s food in order to push it away from his space.  This, for him, is huge. And when I start to worry too much about it, I just look back and remember the things above—the amazing changes and progress my sweet boy has made.

Your child may be overwhelmed by the sensory world around him too, but from my experience, they do learn how to manage. They adapt to some extent. It won’t be this hard for them always. Especially if you have an OT that specializes in Sensory Processing.  They do amazing things!

There is hope.

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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!