Children with sensory processing disorder face many challenges when it comes to choosing clothing and footwear. Parents of children with sensory issues know all too well the signs… They’ve seen how their children have unusual aversions to light, noise, shoes that are seen as too tight and clothing that is too irritating.
Children with sensory processing disorder may feel uncomfortable with certain clothing and shoes. They will be picky about what can be bought and worn.
The child who is hypersensitive to tactile input may be feeling his sock seams or sleeve cuffs all day long. The constant irritation of clothing tags, seams and waistbands can be very distracting and distressing.
A child who feels physically or emotionally distressed by sensory input will not be able to function at his best. Dressing can be the most difficult and trying time of the day for a child with sensory processing difficulties. They will resist wearing certain materials, long sleeves and pants, and they will strip off the offending clothes or shoes as soon as they can.
As adults we know that wearing the wrong pair of shoes can result in a day of misery. When one adds sensory processing difficulties to the mix, then buying the correct pair of shoes can become a near impossibility. When looking for shoes, it is all about finding the most comfortable fit.
Things to consider when looking for the right shoes for your child with sensory processing disorder
- Understand the problem and acknowledge your child’s feelings. There will be an emotional response due to the external pressure placed on them and the “perceived pain”.
- Desensitise the feet and legs. Give some good deep pressure foot massages before putting shoes and socks on. This will help to calm and override the tactile irritation. Deep, firm pressure to feet and ankles… Use a relaxing scented lotion if tolerated.
- It’s all about comfort. Does the child prefer a loose fitting or tight fitting shoe? The general rule is to look for a shoe that provides comfort and flexibility (not stiff). Shoes with seam free fabric interiors, such as the Myang range of shoes, with elastic collars and thin flexible soles will be more comfortable. Heel tabs will help with adjusting and fitting the shoe properly around the heel.
- Get the right pair of socks. If the seams of socks bother your child, turn them inside out or get seamless socks. This simple change often helps immediately.
- Be consistent about shoe rules. It is not always okay to wear Summer shoes in Winter.
Thank you to Annabella Sequeira from Sensory Intelligence and to Myang.