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The Morning Rush

Updated: May 1, 2022


Morning routines are rushed and stressful in many homes, but if your child is overly sensitive to the feel of clothing, getting dressed can be a torturous process for both of you. Children with sensory defensiveness can be derailed by fabrics, textures, seams, tightness, looseness, collars and changes in clothing necessary because of the weather. Clothing may range from uncomfortable to painful, distract your child all day long and intrude in his/her participation in the activities that shape his/her day. The good news is that there are strategies you can implement to make your morning routine run more smoothly and eliminate the anxiety caused by uncomfortable clothing. Some children with need strategies at home while the desensitization process takes place in occupational therapy sessions.

  1. Sweatpants, yoga pants, and leggings often feel a lot better than jeans.

  2. Sweatshirts, pull-overs, and t-shirts will be preferred to button down or collared shirts.

  3. Let your child approve clothing once you bring it home. Once you find acceptable clothing, buy several pairs so clean clothing is always available. You many need to wash the new clothing many times as necessary before it will be acceptable

  4. Pre-wash any new clothing before wearing

  5. Try different brands/scents of detergent and fabric softener to see if they impact on the acceptability of clothing

  6. Consider purchasing tag-less/seamless underwear and socks. Some stores, such as Target, eliminate most kids' clothing tags

  7. Cut out labels and tags. Put bandaids on annoying clothing bumps

  8. Layer spandex, Lycra exercise-type clothes or compression garments such as Under Armour under regular clothes for evenly distributed deep pressure input and calming

  9. Give choices wherever possible to give your child a sense of control

  10. In order to minimize any conflict that may arise in the morning let your child pick out clothing the night before, and lay them out like a “person” so that your child can climb right in

  11. Spend 5 minutes doing sensory preparation before getting dressed. Proprioceptive or “heavy work” activities are most calming and organizing:

  • Make a “sandwich” using pillows and blankets.

  • Roll up in blankets like a “hotdog”, give a few pillow squishes, and roll out of blanket quickly.

  • Jump on cushions or mattresses.

  • Play “Hide and Seek” under cushions and pillows.

  • Ask for and provide bear hugs

  • Give slow back rubs or massages.

12. If your child is sensitive to temperature, dress him/her in layers so that he/she can remain comfortable throughout the day

Chaye Lamm Warburg, DPS, OTR, Director POTS

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