Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders


Aspergers and Sensitivity to Touch


My eight year old son was diagnosed with aspergers syndrome two years ago. He has major trouble wearing anything but basketball shorts and very soft t-shirts on a daily basis. Is it wrong to force him to wear things that he doesn't like? I forced him to wear jeans and a dress shirt for picture day at school and it was horrible. I don't know if I'm doing the wrong thing by forcing him.


I wouldn’t say it is wrong  …inconsiderate would be a better term. A common thread discussed by parents with Aspergers (high functioning autism) children is sensory issues. These children can have either Hyper- or Hypo-sensitivity. Some of them even express the sensory issues from birth. The sensory issues can be specific to one sense or across several senses.

Examples of hypersensitivity:
  • Touch: Does not like touch (especially when unexpected); may be sensitive to textures or different fabrics
  • Taste: Easily gags due to texture or tastes; a "picky" eater
  • Sounds: Showing great discomfort to loud noises such as fireworks, movies, or parades; easily distracted by sounds
  • Smells: Avoids the meat aisle in the grocery store (too stinky); detects odors that others may not even notice
  • Sight: Bothered by bright lights

Children and Aspergers are anecdotally said to be hypersensitive to touch. They will often report that some – or most – of their clothes are “tickly.” Aspergers kids with touch sensitivity are often in the state of “red alert”. Many of the sensations that we take as meaningless, they view as a physical threat. Kids with touch sensitivity also experience tactile sensations differently than others. Something that we experience as smooth can seem to them painful. The result is that often their behavior is affected.

To give you an idea of how Aspergers kids experience the world, imagine the feeling you have when someone scrapes his nails along a blackboard, or the feeling you have when you cut your nails too short. This is how a touch sensitive youngster might experience a warm caress. There is a difference, however. When you cut your nails too short, it bothers you for a while, but the discomfort goes away. If a child is touch sensitive, the discomfort never goes away.

The Aspergers youngster may not be able to wear his dress pants because the feel of wool is too uncomfortable to bear. He may not be able to concentrate in school because he is enduring the hardness of the chair or the rush of air blowing on him from the ventilation system. He may be quick to lash out when another child bumps him because of the perceived attack by the other child. He may be unable to make friends because of the fear of being bumped prevents him from interacting in a normal fashion.

Here are some of the things that may indicate that your Aspergers youngster is touch-sensitive:
  • Craves certain sensations the he finds calming, like rocking or firm pressure
  • Fights irrationally when you are combing or shampooing his hair, cutting his fingernails, or brushing his teeth
  • Gets distracted because of the things that are touching him are bothering him
  • Insists on having certain textures of clothing
  • Makes you cut all the tags and labels out of his clothing
  • Reacts strongly to sensations that most people don't notice
  • Soles of feet, mouth and tongue are usually most sensitive areas
  • Tries to avoid tactile experiences
  • Won’t eat certain foods because of their texture


Treatment of touch sensitivity is usually done under the direction of an occupational therapist. If you feel that your Aspergers youngster may have touch sensitivity, you should first try to confirm the diagnosis by going to someone who is trained in diagnosing sensory integration problems. You should first consult your doctor with your concern and try to get a referral to a “Pediatric Occupational Therapy Service” for diagnosis and treatment. They will manage your Aspergers child’s treatment plan and teach you what you can do at home to help your child.

What Can Parents Do?

A common approach is to spend the time and money needed to find alternative fabrics and styles of clothing. Tolerance for fabrics will vary from child to child. So take your Aspergers son or daughter with you to the clothing store and have him/her experiment with different clothing items. For each shopping excursion, plan on spending at least two hours. You may have to go to several stores. And if you find only one item that your Aspergers child can tolerate per trip – consider yourself very lucky!

Help for over and under-sensitivity to tactile experiences:
  • Cook meals with different size pieces of vegetables and different texture foods.
  • Encourage and offer tight squeezes and hugs.
  • Encourage gardening and patting down soil and working with sand.
  • Provide clothing the child is comfortable in.
  • Supply a bag of different textured items such as feathers, leather, silk, tinfoil, sandpaper and sponge and encourage the child to rub them and feel the different surfaces.
  • Use tactile-rich decor such as cork, sisal rugs and furry blankets.

Other Sensory Issues—

Help for over and under-sensitivity to oral experiences:
  • Encourage bubble blowing.
  • Ensure the child is on a multivitamin to make up for any dietary deficiency.
  • Offer chewing gum, lollipops and hard candy.
  • Supply simple wind instruments such as recorders and harmonicas.
  • Supply straws or cups with built in straws.

Help for children with auditory sensitivity:
  • Expose the child to a variety of music and see which is most enjoyed.
  • Supply earplugs or earmuffs when at a loud event or sports match.
  • Take the child to quiet places on outings such as the library, art galleries, coffee shops and parks.
  • Teach the child how to cope with or move away from loud noises such as a passing train or screaming children.

Help for children with olfactory sensitivity:
  • Don’t bring home magazines with perfumed pages.
  • Give permission for the child to leave the room if an odor is too strong and try and make the same provision at his school.
  • Supply a small vial of a perfume the child likes that he can sniff if he needs to.
  • Teach a child to breathe through his mouth to minimize unwanted smells.

Help for children with visual sensitivity:
  • Build 3D models.
  • Do jigsaw puzzles with the child.
  • Encourage activities where the child sorts items into shapes and sizes.
  • Work on collages.
  • Work with an ophthalmologist as different color and strength lenses can help.

It is helpful to get the child assessed professionally and then integrate the occupational therapist’s suggestions into everyday routines.

Preventing Meltdowns in Aspergers Children


•    Anonymous said… Do any of you have trouble being touched? For me, around my belly, I am incredibly sensitive... It tickles so much it hurts... My girlfriend can barely touch me and it nearly broke us up...?"
•    Anonymous said… Do any of you have trouble being touched? For me, around my belly, I am incredibly sensitive... It tickles so much it hurts... My girlfriend can barely touch me and it nearly broke us up...Interesting, I hate being touched around my fits. Is there a study on oily-skin types and sensitivity? My cutaneous sinsitivity considering my skin type is number 3[darker than a nordic ike you) or an an average white but lighter than a mediterranean european], I burn and may tan under UV: Heat and cold - I prefer cold. epidermis and dermis: almost no sensibility.  I think, maybe it has something to do with your endocrine system(whatever you say in english, mah english too bad), it may interfer in the blood vessels of your epidermis(the sensitive part of your skin), also consider that your muscular mass and your adipose can change your skin elasticity. I have high triglyceride rates in blood and I follow a diet(brazilian) close to the mediterranean diet -veggies, fruits, blah-. So I sometimes I am bleeding and people say "hey, she is bleeding!!" and I tell them: "where exactly?" . Low sensitivity compared to most of people I know.
•    Anonymous said… For all of you who have kids that are very sensitive to clothes, etc. I highly recommend them taking the supplement 5-htp. (sold in health food stores). One 50 mg. capsules daily can be broken open and mixed into a small amount of apple sauce, yogurt or the like. You will notice a diffence in your kid in about a week. Their mood will change as well as the sensitivity; all for the good!!! My 7 yr. old daughter has been taking the 5-htp for 13 months and I can totally tell a difference when she misses a dose.
•    Anonymous said… hmm... hadn't occurred to me that might be an effect of autism... but recently I've been really put off by our downstairs neighbors... particularly the issue is that all 3 of them smoke -- in their apartment -- constantly... There's probably not a one of them (the youngest 14) who doesn't go through at least a half a pack a day. So walking into their apartment is a challenge for me. When Tiff is down there for 20 minutes or so and comes back up, she reeks and I have a tough time kissing her because she tastes like ash to me. I used to be sensitive to smoke as a kid and thought I had outgrown it, but I guess more likely I just haven't been around it as much.
•    Anonymous said… I also experience it. For me it's pretty much my entire body. I find warm water (showers, hot tub, etc) desensitizes me.
•    Anonymous said… I am a therapist, and I work with kids with Autism and Sensory Intergrative Dysfunction ages 3-7. I am starting a clothing line for kids who have extreme sensitivity to clothing textures and cuts, and for parents who want to stop fighting with their kids about clothes, and who want to find clothes appropriate for varied occasions, that their kids will actually want to put on (and keep on!). I have worked with numerous kids who demonstrate challenging behavior as a result of being highly reactive to the touch and feel of their clothing. I have been working with parents, kids, designers, and cotton experts/manufacturers to try and design clothing that will "work" for all kids.
•    Anonymous said… I don't mind the (mild fall) early-morning cold most of the time, which is all well. But I'm terrible during the solstices. Whenever I feel a ball fly past my face, I can feel the air rush by my head. Yet, if a ball actually hits me, I'm fine unless it's a headshot. It's very odd. I'm very odd.
•    Anonymous said… I feel your pain. I have a 7 year old boy. In all other areas he is very typical. However, we have been dealing with this clothing issue for years. First it was underwear. Then socks. Shirts with sleeves. Shoes ... oh my gosh! He always has an issue switching from pants (in the winter) to shorts (in the summer). Then, once again when the seasons change. I have found that he likes boxers best for underwear. We still have a problem with socks and shoes. I found socks that he will wear but Costco stopped carrying them and I am unable to find them anywhere else. We are currently playing Baseball (his 3rd season) and the uniform is such an issue. Unfortunately I am not able to accomidate his "clothing" issue because the uniform is standard. I have become so frustrated that I have contumplated not letting him play. He gets into total "freak outs" over his unforms. It then ripples down onto our entire family. I am just so tired of dealing with it. I truely believe that certain clothes bother him, but I am at a loss of how to constantly accomodate him. I looked up tactile disorder and is has so many other issues that I don't believe that he has that. Do you have any ideas that you could share to help ease the tension and "getting dressed time"?
•    Anonymous said… I hate having anything wet on my face, even just a little. It took my fiance a while to understand why I wiped my lips after he kissed me. I'm severely ticklish. I can't stand the feeling of having wet hair on my hands. At the same time, when I'm touched just right, I get this intense, druglike feeling of euphoria that I can't put a name to. It reminds me of Soma, a prescription muscle relaxer. I can also get this feeling from visual stimuli. I used to have a high pain tolerance. But years of being on SSRI's have upregulated my pain receptors. Now, everything that used to kinda hurt can hurt so bad that it causes anxiety and panic attacks. I also cannot stand the heat. I'd rather be cold than hot, because it's easier for me to get warm than it is to cool off.
•    Anonymous said… I hate high pitched sounds, such as the screech of sound equipment being adjusted and creaking metal joints that need to be oiled. Police and firetruck sirens are also hard for me to deal with. Fortunately, they don't last very long. The Bank of America ATMs in Arizona high high pitch beeps when I push the buttons to enter my ATM code, and I can't stand them. I repeatedly ask the employees to adjust the sound, but they never do anything. Sigh. The sound of chewing bothers me when I focus on it. Fortunately, other sounds tend to drown out that noise, so I hardly ever notice it. I also mainly eat alone, most of the time.
•    Anonymous said… I have had the same problem with my kid since she was 2; she is now 5 and will cry for 1 - 5 hours each morning when she gets dressed. The socks have to have the seam right on her toes with no bumps. The underwear tickles. Her panties are too big..... too little. The seam in the back is crooked. etc. etc. etc. I am about to go crazy. It is such a relief to read that other kids have the same problem..... that I'm not just crazy even though I feel that way. We can not afford to buy any thing new just because something "tickles." I am at the end of my rope. I have tried telling her that it is not the clothes, that it is just in her mind, but she doesn't act that way. It is something very real to her. Something I cannot fix. Even at bed time, the blankets can't have any wrinkles, and the pillow has to be just exactly right (which doesn't happen sometimes!) It is such a relief to read all the other entries; even if it doesn't solve the problem!
•    Anonymous said… I have read that people with AS can become quite agitated over little repetitive sounds in the environment that other people can tune out. The ticking of a clock is one example of this. I find that for me it's chewing noises. I have yet to meet a single other person who is as bothered by them as I am. Often I can't even eat in the same room as other people for this reason. It also limits what jobs I can hold. Perhaps that's why I am making a career out of call centres - if it's your job to talk, usually there is a rule in place that you can't be eating anything at the same time. But sometimes people will stick gum in their mouths anyway. Others don't seem to even notice, but to me it's as loud as thunder. It's even affected my schooling - inevitably there will be at least one person in every classroom that will be chewing loudly on a daily basis. One class I quit attending; the other I actually failed because I would come home so exhausted from the stress of having to hear that all the time that I didn't have any energy left for homework. Even when I'm on the bus I have to select my seat based on who is chewing - I'll usually sit ahead of them so I don't have to see them, and I'll put my music on so I don't have to hear them.  I am on an anti-depressant called Mirtazapine (generic Remeron) which helps to calm me down a little but it doesn't quite take care of everything. I have been like this for at least 10 years, so the best I can hope for is to be in situations where things are quiet and controlled.
•    Anonymous said… I have to wash new clothes before I wear them...something about the chemicals bugs the *CRAP* out of me.
•    Anonymous said… I seem to have a high threshold for pain from scrapes abrasions and punctures but a low threshold for burns & scalds. Some parts are strangely sensitive. I'd swear my mother was attempting to saw my ears off with that comb...
•    Anonymous said… I think I have a good pain tolerance. However, it really hurts when I get my back patted hard, like my mom does to me..Don't like having my back touched at all.Strong back muscles, but the nerves ache..
•    Anonymous said… I think I have a good pain tolerance. However, it really hurts when I get my back patted hard, like my mom does to me..Don't like having my back touched at all.Strong back muscles, but the nerves the same way. my dad got into the habit of patting my back, usually the small of my back, and it really hurt!! i had to finally explain to him that it hurt and i didn't like it. also, rubbing my neck or shoulders... it hurts!! lightly rubbing is fine, but the way my dad does it randomly, i have to be like "owowoowowow" to get him to realize he's hurting me. i remember once, my aunt, who was a masseuse at the time, went to rub my shoulders without any warning, and it hurt so bad, i cried!! she was really surprised and just thought my muscles were really stiff. but, i was only stiff because she had done it without any warning. not that i would have let her do it even with warning!!
•    Anonymous said… I used to get sick on long car rides because of the gasoline smell (getting refules was the worst). What you said about perfumes really resonates with me. Most perfumes are too strong and too sickly for me. Another major thing is cigarrette smoke. If I smell it, I start to gag and my breathing closes up. Hmm I wonder if that's an allergic responce now that I think about it.
•    Anonymous said… I'm extremely ticklish... I also get scared around lighters and hot steam hurts me more than it seems to hurt others. This might be some strange muscle thing, but the odd time when I wash up and stuff like that my arms ache real bad... and when I write. I don't think I'm weak as such, but it seems I'm very sensitive and my muscles can't seem to cope very well sometimes. I don't know why. And when working, I might feel exhausted and my body reacts badly with the heat... just when thinking about it I guess... I don't know what it is. In such circumstances my back might sting a bit too. I don't know what causes all this... I haven't had to work as such for a while though so I haven't felt any of that for a fair while.
•    Anonymous said… im not sensetiv but i have a reaction if somebody touch me i dont exspect it.
•    Anonymous said… My greatest problems regarding hyper-sensitivity have been with smells, especially when it comes to perfumes and chemical smells. When I was a child my mother, who could not afford a car, would take me everywhere on the bus. The smell of the diesel exhaust would make me absolutely sick and I would require a great deal of time to recuperate from the ride. This made my mother severely irritated with me. To make matters worse, there were many times I became so nauseated by the fumes I threw up when we had reached our destination. One such incident took place in the center of the downtown mall. (The whole thing is quite entertaining in retrospect.) To this day I cannot stand certain perfumes that women wear. If I cannot get away from the smell, such as when I am at work and trapped in the same room with a particularly fragrant person, a massive migraine inevitably results. Fluorescent lights have had this affect on me, and, when I was a child, the colors yellow, and brown, especially when combined, made my head hurt. I could go on and on…however, on a more positive note, it does seem that my hypersensitivity has improved, or lessened, with age. I am not as sensitive as I was as a child.
•    Anonymous said… My kid has a terrible time with seams in her clothes. She used to have meltdowns every morning. It was a nightmare. Socks were the worst. She would put them on and tear them off because the seams bothered her. The seams had to line up perfectly on her toes. After so many morning melt downs I finally found smartknitkids socks online. They are seamless and didn't bother my kid. It is so amazing! We are still working on the clothing seam issues, but it seems to be better. Now I'm looking for seamless underwear. Any suggestions?
•    Anonymous said… My kid is four and has a huge clothing sensitivity. Her twin brother and older sister also have a mild case of it but nothing in comparision. I am constantly using sensitive lotion and even baby oil in their tub to try and help. I have removed all tags and decals, etc. and even tried undershirts. I have not changed my soaps and use senstive "everything". She sometimes has to change 7 times before leaving the house in the am. I am exhausted. Something that she wore yesterday will not be good tomorrow. I am allowing her to choose as it is worse if I pick the clothes. Underware is another huge problem. Most days she wears shorts or pj's if we are at home. HELP!
•    Anonymous said… Scent has always been an issue for me. Less so in recent years. I'm now able to walk down the detergent isle of a grocery store without nearly gagging like I did when I was younger. Perfumes and colognes are still a bit of an issue for me. Even (and perhaps especially) unscented commercial cleaners were a big problem for me as a child. I can remember walking into a bathroom in any school, store or hospital when the cleaning crew had finished within 30 minutes or an hour before me and getting an intense headache from the smell of either bleach or amonia and finding it difficult to breathe. It was like an invisible elephant that only I could see -- nobody else had a problem with it -- I was basically incapacitated by it.
•    Anonymous said… This does seem to be a common thing. I am not all that fond of being touched, anywhere. Having said that, if someone touches my head, it triggers my "fight or flight" reflex, in a big way.
•    Anonymous said… This is so interresting. We all so similar in our quirks, having not been similar to anyone much, it's funny. My mom spent time being anoid with my foibles. I try and cut my son huge slack because of that. He hates that styrofoam sound, a lot. Slurping or squishy chewing sounds have always irritated the hell out of me. In the Oasis guide I was surprised and amused to read that out of all the posible annoying sounds that aspies percieve, chewing was the number one irritant. Colors...I get it, but I was drawn to one...I can't explain, it just is my color, always speaks to me or something. Deep red. I see it and I feel complete in some way.
•    Anonymous said… Very sensitive skin here, especially in winter. A hot bath using a firm brush usually cures it (kind of drowns out the irritating sensation), otherwise I'd be itching all the time. Nothing organically wrong, if I don't scratch, the skin looks fine. But the slightest touch can set it off. I was once happy enough in a small circle of friends - we used to throw their arms round each other all the time and I didn't mind - quite the reverse. But that was a long time ago, and these days it's rare, I never initiate it (except with my partner when I remember), and when it's done to me it's too much of a shock, so they've tended to only try it once. I'm not rude about it and don't push them away in any overt way, but they seem to pick up that they've goofed. Nothing to do with sensitive skin though, I think I just need forewarning, and these days there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason why people do that with me, so it's usually a complete surprise and I'm not ready.
•    Anonymous said… Wow...I had no idea this was so common! And yeah I know what you mean about not finding anyone similar to you and then suddenly in this tribe it turns out to be such a common ground. I don't post here too often but this tribe means so much to very much. It's so validating. I think about these discussions often.
•    Anonymous said… yeah mel, my daughter uses her headphones regulary for this reason too, it really helps. we have a fountain right in front of the house.. and the water running is very irritating to her. we also have a good supply of ear plugs, which have helped us out in unexpected situations. So far my daughter as been able to avoid medications.. and I am glad of it, as I think it is hard to come off them once started. I myself have had to resort to anti-depressants for a short while, and just after a couple of months I found, that when not taking them, I was very shakey dealing with my own emotions. I had been buffered, and already I had forgotten how to deal with them myself.. so the "weaning off" was difficult, even though I was told that they were reasonably mild antidepressants, and I had only taken them for a couple of months. So I would recommend to anyone to get off them asap, and if you have taken any psychoinfluencing drugs for a while, to wean yourself off them slowly and with great care,- expect to feel shakey until the hormones can organise themselves properly again, and make sure you have support from friends and doctors/professionals for that bumpy time I have had good sucess with tuina, herbal TCM and western herbal medications.. which seems to work for me. for my AS daughter, for her it seems to be the most important that she has quiet periods in the garden, sitting by the pond, studying newts and insects.. stroking the cats helps too to desensitize.
•    Anonymous said… Yes, this is a common trait amongst a lot of AS people. I have a patch of skin above both hip bones that if touched lightly by another person will actually cause me to convulse. Many of us have a strange disproportionate pain threshold. I've been run over by a car before (note: not hit by a car, the tyres went over me and I was dragged) and that was fairly painless. I've also had surgery that left me with a big scar across my throat and staples holding me together, I never asked for pain relief and went home the same day - to the horror and amazement of hospital staff.  But if I have a migraine I weep like a kid. The feeling of something brushing across my top lip and even having cold objects against my skin are excruciating to me. It's all screwey and upside down.
•    Anonymous said… I completely identify with the smell and sound issues both. As a child, I would get horrendous headaches when it would rain during the night and in the morning sun, fumes from the tarry steam coming from the streets would make me nauseous. Diesel fumes too. As for sounds, it isn't a particular sound that irritates me, but *any* sort of background noise becomes so overwhelming that I can't even hear someone talking to me a couple feet away. I have practiced reading lips just to help me make out what they're saying!
•    Anonymous said... As he matures he will choose to try new things with encouragement, because they want to fit in with their peers they become more willing to make changes. My son changed once he got to 16 because he desperately wanted a girlfriend and a teacher pointed out to him it would be difficult to attract one if he didn't change his style of dress. He consults his sister on which shirts and jeans to buy and takes great pride in his appearance now he is 18
•    Anonymous said... Body brushing before putting on clothing can help-this helps with desensitization...speak with your child's occupational therapist about it.
•    Anonymous said... But at the same time, if the kids aren't thrown out of their comfort zone every now and then, they'll never adapt.
•    Anonymous said... For 3 yrs our son could only wear hanes tagless sweat pants and tops, the sensation of anything else was painful. Eventually he just slowly adapted and now wears jeans , wool coat, hats, everything. Haircuts or brushing his hair might as well had been torture, hang in there it may get better.
•    Anonymous said... He could not care any less if his clothes match or inside out and backwards. If I didn't make him I don't think he would ever change clothes
•    Anonymous said... I guess I would relate this to a pair of shoes that are too small. If I was forced to wear a pair of small shoes if be miserable by the end if the day. My daughter is 10 and is sensitive to clothing also, so if it makes him comfortable and isn't breaking any rules embrace it as something small that you have control over to make his day better.
•    Anonymous said... I have an 11-year old son with high functioning autism and that's pretty much the only thing he'll wear! It's a fight when we go to weddings or any other occasion where he can't wear his basketball shorts.
•    Anonymous said... I have an autistic daughterso I do understand some of these difficulties, however I also have a son who has really severe eczema and can only wear certain clothes because of this. I just wanted to point out that clothes are only to protect our modesty and you as his parent should do what you feel is the right thing, do not be forced to dress him a certain way for societal reasons, do what you feel is right for you and him x
•    Anonymous said... I think exposure-desensitized programming is key. Make them wear for a minute, increase to five min a day and so on and so on.. We have to do this with tights, pants with waistbands, etc...we have more success with daily small bursts building up to an event
•    Anonymous said... I wouldn't make him.I found life got allot better for our family when we stopped trying to make our son change and we changed our ideas to make him more comfortable.
•    Anonymous said... I wouldn't try and get him to wear things he doesn't like the feel off, I have a son with aspergers and he is the same but it is actually painful for him to wear rough things because of the sensory issues that people with aspergers usually have, it may actually hurt him.just my opinion though everyone is different
•    Anonymous said... It's like making someone wear a "hair shirt" from olden times. It's uncomfortable and physically upsets them. Parents need to worry less about their children's clothing, than about their comfort level and ability to get through the day with fewer issues and problems. As long as they are covered and presentable, and clean, worry about the bigger issues they are facing in life.
•    Anonymous said... Mine is the same way and I let him. In church days he will dress but it takes me awhile and a lot of shopping to find clothes that are "soft" enough with little seam exposer etc. I figure he deals with enough that he shouldn't have to deal with feeling like he has claws all over his body all day. As long as he's clean and his clothes are clean and not worn out. We do it. That's all he has except maybe 1 pair of pants for church an a few shirts. Picture day. Well I want a pic of who and what my kid is not what he "should" be. hope that helps.
•    Anonymous said... mine was the same, until he was about 9, only cotton shirts, sweat pants and underwear that were 2 sizes to small. He has out grown that now. Didn't bother me what he wore and now he'll wear anything except things with to small of a neckline, says its feels like its choking him.
•    Anonymous said... My fellow doesn't have extreme sensitivities but also prefers less clothes. Part of it is also habits and each time we get to winter it's a tough process to get him to change to warmer clothes. Sometimes I do wonder if I should push it but if I don't he will get even more entrenched in his position and he will never ever wear long pants for the rest of his life. So for the sake of challenging his inflexibility I set rules which are written on the wall. Under 16 degrees must wear long sleaved top if under 16 degrees for the day must wear long pants. Then I use incentives and consequences. After the first week then he just does it.
•    Anonymous said... My son is 10 now. He has high functioning autism /Aspergers. He only want to wear basketball shorts, t shirts and sweet pants with no tag. He also would wear the same clothes for months if I didn't make him a to change. He used to love bath but not now. Some days I tell him that his shirt is on backwards or sometimes it's inside out. Sometimes it doesn't match. I have learned to pick my battles. He is loved with no limit. I make him change his cloths at least every other day. The bath twice a week is a dream come true. Sometimes his legs hurt and that's how he deals with pain. When he is in there I try to soap him up. That's I battle. I end up wetter than him and he is the one in tub. Water is everywhere. The mismatch clothes,being backwards ect. Is not worth the fight. He is homeschooled so that helps.
•    Anonymous said... Pick your battles. My 9 yr old aspie is at the same stage. Our school year just started and I'm asking him to wear jeans or something other than athletic pants 1-2 x per week. With advanced notice - like on Monday I say on Wednesday can you wear these pants? Then he knows its coming up and he is handling it much better. But if its not worth the battle cause you probably have 1,000 other battles let this one go.
•    Anonymous said... Same here. I created a plan with his bha. If I don't think he is wearing something appropriate then I get to help him pick what to wear. Otherwise he can wear what he wants. I also give him choices as to what he can wear. The best way I have found to do that is to take him to the store (knowing what we are going for exactly) then let him pick. I found its a less forceful way of getting him to do what I want.
•    Anonymous said... some of the same problem. certain materials just really bother their skin.
•    Anonymous said... Unfortunately your son won't be able to wear basket ball shorts and soft shirts for the rest of his life. There will come a time when he has to wear other fabrics, such as when he gets a job. My son also hate the feel of some fabrics and I only really make him 'dress up' for special occasions. I explain why he needs to wear these clothes and let him know that he can get changed as soon as is possible, I usually give him a time that we will be home and if he complains I remind him that there is only how ever mins left for him to him leave it on. He is nearly 11 and it's gotten a lot easier to get him to wear things other than track pants and t shirts.
•    Anonymous said... Unfortunately, conformity will be one of the biggest obstacles our kiddos will face in their life. We, as parents, are left with the heart-wrenching decisions of when is the right time to "make them" try new things or "make them" do what they need to do. We don't have this as much with clothes as we do with food. I hate having to make my kiddo do anything he doesn't like but the fact of the matter is that we have to...slowly, but surely, we have to... this world is not educated enough or equipped to understand our kids. Just like we have to teach them social skills and facial expressions, we need to teach them to make the best of situations. For example, if you allow him to continue wearing only this clothing, what will happen when school no longer allows it? Or, when he is older and has to wear a uniform to middle school? Evidence shows that teaching our Aspies conformity at a younger age will only help them assimilate later on...
•    Anonymous said... Wow out son is the same way and also hates blankets, it's a sensory response
•    Anonymous said... Yep hair washing, hair cuts - nightmare! He wears different clothes to the other kids at school that is comfortable for him, but from time to time I have "forced" him to wear jeans - he is 8 now and I do think at some point he needs to learn to deal with discomfort. Once they are on he forgets all about it and Carrys on with what he is doing.
•    Anonymous said…  I feel we need to be flexible when it comes to our aspies dressing. Unless he absolutley has to dress up for an occasion I let my son wear what he is comfortable with as long as it is respectful! My son is 17 and likes tshirts and hoodies (only certain brands) that have to be a certain size (he likes large sizes even though he is slim and average build). He prefers "skinny" fit jeans and hates and refuses wearing shorts because he can't stand showing his bare legs or reveal what he feels is "hairy legs"! My son has a hard time wearing a bathing suit because he has low self esteem and body image.
•    Anonymous said…  Our son wore a button up green striped shirt sleeve skirt, a green striped tie, and chose a purple and blue universe background. The school photographer told him it wouldn't match. When we got the pics our 9 year old took one look and said,"huh! I told that guy (the photographer) I'd look good!"
•    Anonymous said… A long school day of dealing with the stress of social interactions is maybe not the best time to add in the discomfort of unfamiliar clothing. Schedule a portrait outside of school, someplace quiet, and let him wait until he gets there to put on a special outfit.
•    Anonymous said… All of my kid's clothes are hand-me-downs and have been broken in really well. He chooses UnderArmor shirts, Jeggings and soft pants, PJ bottoms. He really likes his Boy Scout uniform pants where the lower leg unzips, he can carry them in his backpack if needed. He will not wear jeans or Dickies. For a while he chose socks that weren't a pair, but kinda went together, one sandal and one shoe. Oh, and always his Fedora. Uniforms are not required at his school. He has worn the exact same silky button-up shirt for school pictures from Kindy through 7th grade, and he's upset that he won't get another year out of it. We do have certain rules if it's below freezing, and for special outings.
•    Anonymous said… Any tips for haircuts? My son's 15 and it's been over a year and his hair is past his shoulders. His sister is getting married in 2 weemsz, and that necessitates a hair cut. It's quite an ordeal
•    Anonymous said… Between the ages of 4 and 9 my son couldn't stand tags in his shirts or any restricting waist bands. I cut tags and Old Navy used to sell school uniform pants with elastic waists. I did what I could to make him comfortable and explained to school officials when they didn't understand. (He had to wear uniforms to school) He eventually grew out of it gradually. I still only buy tagless shirts. He starting wearing regular waistbands under his tummy. Now he can wear the pants at his natural waist. It took some time and I didn't necessarily push, but it did happen. Keep the faith. Wishing you the best.
•    Anonymous said… forcing them to do anything just makes things worse, getting agitated and anxious increases their sensitivity. As they grow older and become aware that they look different to others but want to look the same, then the change will come. My son was the same until he was in Y12 of high school. He went to a social event and was teased about not wearing jeans like everybody else. He wanted to be like them so much he was able to overcome the discomfort, now it is no longer a problem.
•    Anonymous said… From my experience with my 10 year old son, processing what we, as neuro-typical, don't even notice: sound, light, movement, temperature, etc is so much more demanding that it is exhausting. To then expect your child to wear something that will add to their anxiety is going to make them less productive during the day (think of a polo neck that is perhaps too tight around your neck, or shoes that hurt your feet). If you can help him reduce his frustration with as many things as possible (such as clothing concessions), he will have more energy to learn and enjoy life.
•    Anonymous said… I guess my perspective is this, how would you take it if your boss came to you and said your new uniform was a wetsuit whether you like it or not. A child's opinion is valid no matter how young they are. I'd try to find nice tee-shirts and soft shorts for him to wear and know that smile in that picture is genuine. Years from now when you look at that school picture this negative memory is what you'll think of... Which is better?
•    Anonymous said… I guess there is a reason he hates it. He is not doing it to be annoying. I have a merino thermal top and it's a but irritating to wear. I often can't wait to get home to take it off.
Choosing the softest and loosest clothes sound best for him. One idea might be to wear a soft tshirt under tops that have a texture he doesn't like.
With my son sometimes there's no choice so I have to get him to wear pants and he does get used to it. Then the next year for winter we go through the battle again and then he gets used to it again. It's hard for him.
•    Anonymous said… I had my son wear what he wanted but put a button down shirt over it. After pictures he could take the shirt off. Knowing it was temporary and that there was a comfortable layer in between made it work for both of us
•    Anonymous said… I never force my son with things like this he never does his button up on his school trousers ever for example! Choose your battles I say xxxx
•    Anonymous said… Imagine wearing a very itchy wool sweater all day in a hot room.... the feeling is very real to them - even if we don't feel it (or understand). That is what I have come to learn from my son.
•    Anonymous said… It's more important to teach him compromise. My own son hates socks for example. I insist he wears them to school because that's what expected, and for 'occasions' but on his own time he decides. It's the same for anybody - I don't like skirts so I don't wear them. As long as you teach him the social rules - a suit for a wedding for example, what he wears in free time is entirely up to him.
•    Anonymous said… It's not worth it. He's going to look miserable in the picture and come home more stressed than usual. My 9 year old is the same. It's hard. I get it. You'll likely never have the cute pictures of him looking like a little gentleman in coat and tie. You can still have cute pictures of him smiling and happy in clothes that he's comfortable in. There are other things; for his health kinds of things; that you are going to HAVE to force on him. Choose your battles wisely and limit the stress on both of you.
•    Anonymous said… Let him wear what is comfortable. Try to imagine wearing a Brillo pad sweater. That's probably how he feels and that makes it impossible for him to concentrate on any thing else.
•    Anonymous said… My 10 yr old is the same, won't wear jeans or doesn't like things with buttons, let him decide what he wears now, he preferes joggers and t.shirts or a jumper but again doesn't like wearing a t.shirt under a jumper, same with trainers, often has a melt down when I have to change he's trainers
•    Anonymous said… My 12 year old dd also won't wear anything jean related or anything with buttons. I"ve tried many times.
•    Anonymous said… My 15 yo rejects jeans. She says they are "cold". I've never understood it but I respect it. I buy soft black pants from Goodwill. She also rips out every seam in all her pants so there's that. And don't get me started on her lack of fashion sense. But who cares? I've seen other NT teens and they don't look much better.
•    Anonymous said… My 16 year old aspy still won't wear jean or anything navy blue.
•    Anonymous said… My aspie son went thru phases....only sweats, only jeans, now only carhos, no long sleeves, only v necks, nothing with inside sewing or stifness. He is now 19 and has grown into many different types of clothing now. Don't force them.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter dislike jeans, I don't make her wear them! She likes sweat pants and leggings
•    Anonymous said… My daughter wears leggings and the occasional stretchy jeans. It took alot of coercion to get her into jeans she still prefers leggings. There are fabric textures she absolutely will not wear. All tags must be cut out and if a seam is too large she will not wear that item either.
•    Anonymous said… My son also would only wear "soft" pants for the longest time-drove my husband crazy but I didn't care as long as he was making it out the door and to school. He started wearing jeans sometimes but usually with his basketball shorts or silky warm up pants or pj pants underneath. I think the layers were as much about the comfort of the material as the added compression from layering since sometimes he also layers lots of shirts.
•    Anonymous said… My son is 32. He hates button down shirts. Only wore one twice in the last 10 yrs. To both of his college graduations.
•    Anonymous said… My son is the same...will only wear basketball shorts and Adidas and Nike pants (that material) for Easter Sunday he wore jeans but that was the last time I could get him to wear anything else. He likes the comfortable feel of the material and hates the fabric of jeans.
•    Anonymous said… Perhaps I should have elaborated. when I said, "pick your battles maybe?" I meant, let your child wear whatever they want. Be it sweatpants, jeans, shorts or a pumpkin costume. Do what works for you and your child always.
•    Anonymous said… Pick your battles maybe? My "neurotypical" son won't wear jeans. Doesn't bother me. I'm not worried what others think.
•    Anonymous said… sounds like he has SPD - I wouldn't force him, but I would 'work on it' so he can learn to adapt and look into OT
•    Anonymous said… They actually feel pain on things that are rough. He will grow into it in about ten years.
•    Anonymous said… This is a battle you shouldn't pick. Clothing is personal. Find compromises. Look for lightweight pants made of softer fabric with an elastic waist band. Instead of a starched dress shirt, pair a soft t-shirt with a loose vest. Allow him to try things on with no judgment from you about how ridiculous you think his objections are - just accept that there are clothes he will not ever try. Encourage him to explain what he likes about certain articles of clothing rather than getting into a negative spiral about what he hates. Tell him about what you look for in your own clothing and why. This offers him a model for communicating about preferences without getting lost in a rant on what he hates.
•    Anonymous said… To control others in favor of our own desires is wrong in my opinion. He is a human being who should get to choose for himself, especially if his choices bring him comfort, regardless of how you feel he should be dressing. I mean you no disrespect by saying this. I just want to you realize that he should have the same rights as everyone else. For him, this in not about fashion, but about living in a way that is tolerable.
•    Anonymous said… we beg our son to wear nice things sometimes, we tell him we know its uncomfortable but if he could just ne brave and wear it for whatever reason. So hard! his school is really good and he is allowed to wear sport jumpers instead of formal jumpers. He puts together crazy outfits alot of the time, people stare or laugh but we reasure him that we love him the way he dresses and that h is comfortable being himself :)
•    Anonymous said… Why force? Pick something YOU hate. How would you feel if you had to put up with it all day? Accept your sons boundaries and preferences... There are more important things to argue about... And he'll be able to regulate himself better.
•    Anonymous said… With our children, not unlike neuro-typical children actually, there are battles to win and battles not to let go. The clothing one--unless I think he is going to do harm to himself over what he is wearing--I let it go. My son is 17 now. In the past we have had issues with socks, shirts with tags, etc. I now know what types of clothes to buy him, and often give him something out of his "comfort zone" and he usually finds it okay--as long as I don't push. The past two summers--he doesn't like to wear shorts. I buy him a few pair, just in case--and let him wear whatever. (If he gets too hot, he has them.) Tag-less shirts are great. :-) Wish you the best of luck!
•    Anonymous said… You're not wrong to force him to wear something other than his usual outfits. He needs to understand that there are certain occasions when he needs to buck up and just deal with things that aren't what he's used to whether it's clothing or food or anything else. He'll object a lot right now (as he's a child) but as an adult, he'll thank you.

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Anonymous said...

My eight year old is was also diagnosed two years ago. basketball shorts and soft t-shirts are also the only thing he will wear without screaming. Every single solitary day he screams before school because he hates his button up shirt and pants. He hates socks and fusses over putting them up and tying his laces for at LEAST 30 minutes every morning. I could go on and on and on... Most of the time we are together as a family is spent trying to side-step his sensory issues. We never know what will set him off - I am completely emotionally exhausted and question everything I do as to how he will react. I have no answers - I just want you to know you are not along.

Anonymous said...

For me, I wanna touch everything! I swear! My hands always want to touch soft fabric or whatever. I want to touch everything because it relaxes me.

I don't like the smell of perfume or just fragrance. It makes me gag. I'm sensitive to detergent and I only like a specific type and brand of fabric softener. But I can manage bad odors, it's so weird! If I smell something I don't like, my taste buds will react and I cannot eat anything because everything will just taste the same, aka taste bad.

The problem I have most is with sound. I don't like it when it's loud. It stresses me out big time that's why I avoid public places and crowds. I love listening to classical music but the worst problem is that when I listen to music, I can never do anything else. My hyperfocus button automatically turns on. I can distinguish between instruments used. I also enjoy electro beats, or anything that uses synthesized sounds because I like dissecting the sounds.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the smell of fresh meat and accidental touches. It shocks me hahaha! I dunno if NT's experience that as well. If someone accidentally bumps arms with me, everything is suddenly uncomfortable or I feel a sense of embarrassment.

I'm not really ticklish but my pain tolerance is very low.

I don't like my nails growing long and putting on nail polish. I feel like I can't breathe.

Lastly, I don't like people touching me without my permission, not even with friends. All my friends know they can't touch my sides, especially the belly area or hold hands with me, unless they want my foot up their behinds hehe

Anonymous said...

Really great article with very interesting information. You might want to follow up to this topic!?! 2012

Anonymous said...

Well said. I never thought I would accept this opinion, but I’m starting to see things from a different point of view. I have to study more on this as it looks very interesting. One thing I don’t understand though is how everything is related together.

Anonymous said...

I'm really happy that you've made your own web resource and have factually posted your thoughts. I like your work and feel I can concern to what you've done. Most people can't even imagine having such talent. I hope that you know how lucky you are. :) Good luck to you in ALL your undertakings. :)

Tracey Strachan said...

My 5 year old avoids touching paper when he Wright's at school so has no control with his pencil he gets gouse bumps if he dose and didn't like to hold your hand as he didn't like the feeling he sez and marks very easy with touch

Blake Geometrio said...

Wow, I know it's extremely late to probably post on this, but I wanted to ask a question: Is it common for people with Asperger's to feel nauseous when encountered with certain sounds and bright lights?

7 Seven said...

Thanks for sharing...58eveningdress.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

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Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content