My 3 yr. old has Sensory Intergration Disorder, how do I get him to get clothes on. HELP- I am stuck at home!!


I have not seen a dr. yet. I just have been reading on this for a while now. When I put clothes on him, he tells me they are too tight (they are not) or they itch, or there are bumbs. I know there are ot's that can help, but I am having trouble finding them in my area. (Utah) slc area. Why does this "special" brush work? where do I buy one? Clothes are the only issues that he has. My other son used to have clothes issues, but they have seemed to go away, or at least are not as bad. What is a sensory diet? Also, my 3 yr. old has type 1 diabetes. he has had it for 2 yrs. now. this sensory stuff has just started a few months ago. Why all of a sudden? Does anybody know why???

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The person that said Sensory Integration Disorder (also known as SPD, Sensory Processing Disorder) starts at birth is wrong- it may or may not be present in infancy, but symptoms usually appear between the ages of 2-5. It sounds like she was trying to help, but is not correct in most of what she said. You are not trying to make a self-diagnosis, just trying to do something till you can find a doctor. As long as you are seeing a pediatrician regularly, he is in no danger. My son has both Sensory Integration Disorder and High Functioning Autism. My son protested a lot of his clothing choices as well, so I know how you feel.

    First of all, please learn as much as you can about SPD, so you can understand how this affects him. Ask your ped for a support group or books to read. It will affect the rest of both his life and yours. Also, understand that he truly, physically feels things differently than you, either more or less than others.

    You listed several issues- the first being clothing. Clothes that feel loose to you are constricting to him, the fabric may be itchy because he can feel the fibers more than you. What he feels is very real to him, he is not being picky or willful about these things. They are scary and overwhelming to him.

    I tried having my son help pick out his clothes with me and give him choices. Give him 2 shirts with different fabrics or feels to them and let him choose. That way he will be able to pick the "lesser of two evils" so to speak. Same thing with all of his other clothes. Also, did you change laundry soap or fabric softener or line dry clothes? All of those he can pick up on much more easily, even if you can't. Cut all the tags out of his clothes and check seams for rough threads or other areas that he might not like. Create a vocabulary with him so he can describe what he feels like, "scratchy" "rough" "smooth" "bumpy" and teach him "show me". Say a describing word and have him bring you his clothing that describes it and have him "show you" what part of it is "scratchy, rough, etc"

    It will take a lot longer to get him going but it eventually worked for my son, maybe yours too.

    Second issue-brushing therapy brush.

    This therapy works for many kids with SPD. It should be done a specific way to work, preferably taught by an OT. But you can learn the technique online or maybe call an OT for pointers. It works like this- you brush the arm, leg, foot back, etc with steady pressure in one direction usually toward the trunk. You do this 10x and then it is usually followed by joint compression therapy. Then you move on the next body area and major joint. I have done this with my son for the last 2 years and nothing seems to calm him more than that, especially if he is overstimulated. I also do "Squish" my version of compression ball therapy where I take a small bean bag chair and gently squish his body on the legs, trunk and arms. It is calming and helps to order themselves and gives much needed Tactile and Proprioceptive Stimuli.

    Third- Sensory Diet- it involves giving a child specific stimulus to decrease the sensory reaction. Link to some below.

    Lastly-symptoms seem to have come suddenly

    Childen with this have syptoms that come and go, both in type and intensity. He probably has others symptoms you just aren't picking up on right now. There are 8 senses all together, although most people only refer to the common 5- touch, taste, smell, and sight. The other 3 that are involved with SPD are Proprioceptive- knowing where the body is placed even when your eyes are closed, Tactile-pressure on the skin, knowing you are seated cause you feel the chair pressing on your bum (and involved in his clothing issues), and Vestibular- movement foward and backwards up and down, involves the fluid in the inner ear and balance. As he grows and changes, all these senses are changing too. Some are under and some over stimulated. He just doesn't know how to explain it to you yet.

    Try to do what you can now, but he will probably need Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy. I would get him to a Developmental Pediatrician as soon as you can. Also, most school systems have a program for preschool kids with developmental delays. My son started one when he was three and it has been a huge help for him. Although I was a preschool teacher before having my kids, I could not provide what he needed. Call the school system you are in and ask. It is well worth it.

    Hope this helps

    Best of luck and God bless!

    Sorry for the mispellings, spell check wouldn't work lol


    Source(s): info for Sensory Integration Disorder (SPD) Store to buy the sensory brush from (corn brush) sensory diet-sample
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  • Whew! Need a bit more detail if you can about your son, like when did this start, have you seen a DR, has anything changed? Has a sensory diet already been in place? What does he do when you try to dress him? Have you tried weighted or close fitting material like spandex or lycra? Weighted or horse blankets? I feel your exasperation and your bewilderment. Sensory issues are not easy to manage as I have found out with my 4 year old son.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Sensory Integration Disorder most commonly starts at birth. Sounds like something else is going on- you should probably take him to a doctor to be sure. Self-diagnosing off of what you have read is not only inaffective, but can be dangerous. Try looser fitting clothing and cotton clothing. Things that tend to be more comfortable. Also, ask him what he would rather wear and get him to a doctor if you suspect SID.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Is he resistant to the texture of the clothes on his skin, or just doesn't like the process of getting dressed? Try to make sure that the fabric is soft cotton, nothing starchy or stiff (even polo shirts can be too stiff for some children) and that they have no tags. Trying to get a child with SI to get dressed can be very difficult... you just have to keep trying things to see what he reacts to. Try changing your fabric soap (Try Dreft, usually for babies, but can be good for kids with sensitive skin) and your fabric softener too. Fragranced softeners (such as Bounce, in your dryer) can add a layer of smell that can be really offensive to children with SI. You can also try the tried and true trick for getting a toddler to do something... give him a choice. "Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the red one?" Sometimes, just having the opportunity to choose can make a huge difference. They are still accomplishing the main goal (to get dressed) but they feel like they have some control over the situation. Just remember to only give two different choices, and only choices you can live with (so you don't have to backtrack on it). For some more ideas and info on sensory integration disorder, check out the books by Carol Stock Kranowitz- The Out-of-Sync Child, and The Out of Sync Child Has Fun. These are great for coming up with activity ideas and helping your child to modulate themselves.

    Source(s): special education preschool teacher
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  • 1 decade ago

    Try gently stimulating him with a sponge ,soft hair brush on skin ,different types of very soft clothes.rub them on his arms and legs firmly .also get him into a program ,I would think your doctor would have recommended one .Children with Autism have this problem also ,So you might have luck with their site .

    Source(s): Autism
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