Did you know that your feet, hands, scalp, and mouth are amongst the most sensitive areas of your body? You have a higher concentration of nerve endings in these places than almost anywhere else, especially the soles of your feet. For people struggling with tactile defensiveness these are the places they will notice it the most. For years I have covered my hands and feet in moisturising cream to try to numb some of the sensation, you will always find me wearing comfortable shoes. Also I will do anything, and I mean anything to get out of washing the dishes if there are no rubber gloves available.
When Charlie was little he would fuss and complain about his shoes and socks, he refused to wear new shoes and so after a few failed shoe shopping trips we decided that would buy him second hand ones from eBay in the exact same colour and style that he was used to just in half size increments.
At home he is always barefoot indoors, even when it is cold. Outside he doesn’t enjoy walking over new surfaces and hates to be barefoot on soft sand or grass and so wants his shoes and socks back on to go outside, no matter how time consuming that might be. Many times he will avoid going outside at all or stay put on an acceptable surface, once I saw him tippie-toe walk on grass in desperation to get to the trampoline when his shoes were not available.
As soon as he was old enough and able to take his shoes and socks off by himself he would. In the house, in the car, in the shops the church the school anywhere and everywhere. The place we noticed this most was the car, every single car journey would involve me trying to locate and replace the missing shoes and socks, it drove me nuts. The worst was on rainy days, as I would be the one standing with my backside outside in the rain, head in the car trying to locate the missing items and he would be screaming and crying if a drop of rain got to him. Charlie hates wind and rain and the open car door and extra delay was causing him to get splashed!
In august last year we met our speech and language therapist to talk about food refusal she sent us away to “read all the information on the autistic society website“
We read this
- Touch can be painful and uncomfortable; people may not like to be touched and this can affect their relationships with others.
- Dislikes having anything on hands or feet.
- Difficulties brushing and washing hair because head is sensitive.
- Only likes certain types of clothing or textures.
At the time we knew nothing about sensory processing and so were surprised to find out that the shoes and socks problem was connected to anything else. On another website someone suggested turning socks inside out or buying seamless socks. Seamless socks are expensive so we went with the inside out thing first and it worked. We also adjusted our expectations, for example now we wait until the last minute to put his shoes and socks on before leaving the house. If the journey is fairly short and he can understand that he should keep them on we ask him to do so. Finally car journeys became a little easier.
This works great but if he has had a stressful or challenging day at school I will know as soon as we get in the car because he will immediately ask me if he can take them off. I generally agree, its better for everyone’s happiness if the boy is comfortable.
Last week Lillie needed new school shoes, she loves shopping and she thinks that the idea of going to a big department store in town having your feet measured and then spending half an hour driving some poor shop assistant nuts choosing between a few, not very varied pairs of black school shoes is just wonderful. For her it is like a dream come true, she loves all the attention and especially the prancing up and down checking that they fit properly part. Oh and the bit where she can choose which friend to buy a similar style to, this time after much deliberation she chose to have the same style as her cousin.
We gave Charlie the option to come with us, we explained that it would be a big shop and that the lady would need to check what size his feet were, that he would have to try the new shoes on and that they would feel different from his old shoes. We showed him pictures of what the process was as it has been such a long time since we have bothered trying that there would be no way he would remember. We also asked Lillie to go first so that he would know exactly what would happen.
He asked…”When she does that it would tickle?”
We said yes and he agreed to give it a go anyway, his motivation is inspirational. I am so proud of him,
And so for the first time since he was a very young baby we managed a successful shoe shopping trip and both kids have new school shoes. On his first day back at school he kept them on for the whole day…until the journey home of course.