Excerpt from Sensory Incompatibility written on August  2010

. . . .Back to that itch, did you get it scratched?  Did it create another itch in the time you were ignoring it?  How distracted were you until you satisfied that itch?  Some people have that all day with clothes or shoes or temperature.  We tend to  think naked children is limited to the 2 year olds, but when clothes are a sensory incompatibility, it is hard to be social when being dressed is a requirement.  The clothing industry has made some accommodations.  The tag-less shirts and the comfy underwear waistband are just a start.  There is even a whole line of clothes dedicated for tactile defensive (those who find clothes ‘itchy’) kids.

It is hard to be comfortable in your own skin, let alone clothes when your skin nerves are constantly interrupting the conversations going on in your brain.  These children tend to worry; they worry about the present and the future, change in situation, change in seasons and change in those around them.  They avoid being bumped or rubbed and give a person the appearance of shy or introverted.  Next time you see a parent pleading with their child at the store to try on clothes or shoes, consider that this child’s nerves can’t take this simple activity
 and back to school shopping is going to be a nightmare.

A child with tactile defensiveness is an avoider, sometimes an avoider of life.  In the more extreme cases, these kids can feel every fiber of clothing scratching them, it gives the feeling of steel wool on their skin, even underwear in the most sensitive spots.  They fight to stay naked, fear baths for the feeling for the feeling the water on their skin gives them makes their skin crawl.  Don’t even think about that rough towel drying them off.

When a parent is unaware of sensory incompatibility, they can fight their children over what they think are the silliest of issues.  Shoes must fit just right, particular types of socks, the feel of a favorite blanket or even being hugged can all create frustration.  Just because socks ‘should’ be worn with shoes does not mean then can be.

Nerves in the skin send messages about texture, temperature and pressure to the brain.  When the processing of this information is prioritized wrong, a small section of that information will become the itch that needs scratching.  The shoes will need fixing until the information is no longer a priority, the line in the sock foot will need to be placed over the right nerves as to not draw attention to it by the brain.

For these kids, these sensory incompatibilities are real and trump all other issues, weather real or perceived.  Anxiety can come from tactile defensiveness, trying to avoid situations and constantly worrying about situations.  A child does not know that not everyone feels the same as they do, they do not know that others are not intensely bothered by fabric, pressure and temperature, they cannot express that this is how they feel, they just worry, avoid and say no.

To read more on the seven senses click here . . .