Tips for Getting Sensory Kids to Wear Winter Clothes

Tips for getting sensory kids to wear winter clothes

The tactile sensory system is one of the earliest developed senses of the body. The skin, the largest organ in the body, performs unique duties. The sense of touch alerts us to danger and discriminates sensation with regard to location and identification.

Tactile discrimination allows us to sense where on our body and what is touching us. With discrimination, we are able to discern if a fly lands on our arm. It also alerts us to jump in response to the “fight or flight” response when we perceive a spider crawling on our arm.

When sensation is disrupted, tactile dysfunction can result. This presents in many ways, including hypersensitivity to tags in clothing, sensitivities to heat or cold, a dislike of messy play, difficulty with fine motor tasks, a fear of being touched by someone without seeing that touch, a high tolerance of pain or a need to touch everything and everyone.

Information received from the tactile system includes light touch, pain, temperature and pressure. When the tactile system is immature or impaired, the brain can become overly stimulated, resulting in poor organization and regulation of input. As a result, children can experience difficulty with behavior and concentration.

When children with tactile discrimination issues need to wear winter clothing, meltdowns can result. The heavy winter coat is just not tolerable. To make it easier for children to tolerate wearing winter clothes, here are some suggestions:

1. Layer! Clothing that compresses the body, such as a Lycia sun shirt, tight stockings or bike shorts, worn under clothing can be a big help for some children. Other ideas include: · An Under Armour shirt; some have a crew neck to reduce the tight feeling around the neck. · Short sleeve compression shirt · Tagless bike shorts · Seamless playground/dance shorts · Swim shirt; use a size smaller than usual for a tight fit

2. Use seamless undergarments, socks or clothing, or clothing with flat seams. These can be added under a layer of heavier socks or used by themselves.

3. Tighten or loosen shoe laces as preferred; a tighter shoe lace can provide compression through the feet.

4. Becoming overheated can be a big cause for a sensory meltdown or refusal to wear winter coats. Consider trying a fleece or lined sweatshirt instead of a puffy winter coat.

5. Cut labels from clothing. Don’t forget gloves, hats, jackets and coats.

6. Wear two layers of socks or try wearing socks a size smaller for additional compression through the feet and ankles. Try using a knee-high length sock by itself or under a second pair of socks; that can help a child who can’t tolerate socks slouching down inside shoes or boots.

7. Wash new clothing in hot water several times to loosen clothing textures.

8. Rub a thick cream such as aloe gel or cocoa butter on the body before dressing. Dry skin can cause itchiness during the winter months where dry heat is prevalent.

9. Use a blanket in the car if a winter coat isn’t an option.

10. Use fabrics such as cotton, fleece and flannel; avoid polyester blends.

11. Wear full body zipper pajamas (made for big kids!) with or without a compression layer underneath.

12. Use a winter vest or removable sleeves to quickly adjust for temperature changes. Source:

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Arbor Therapy