Fashion Statements: Common Kid Clothing Quirks

Could It Be Sensory Processing Disorder?

Kids who constantly complain about uncomfortable clothes -- and cry, hit, or throw tantrums over the feel of a wool sweater or pair of shoes -- may have a sensory processing disorder (SPD). Although parents may think that their child is just being manipulative, an extreme response to fabric could actually be physiological, says Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, executive director of the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation, in Greenwood Village, Colorado, and author of Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder. "His brain is telling him that there's something wrong." Some children have additional sensory issues, such as a sensitivity to noise or light. Other red flags for tactile SPD: a child doesn't want to finger feed, finger-paint, use clay, get dirty, play in a sandbox, or touch things using his whole hand. If your child shows these signs or has major clothing issues that interfere with his daily activities, talk to your pediatrician about having him evaluated. Occupational therapy, in which children learn to explore a sensory-rich environment, helps reduce their sensitivity.

Originally published in the November 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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