After my dogs failed attempt at love making we walked further down the path. Unusually for Yorkshire it was sunny and warm. So I donned my baseball cap. I must admit I’ve never really liked wearing a hat. Just doesn’t feel right – but needs must. As soon as the sun goes in the hat comes off. I would hate the prospect of wearing it all day every day.

One of the most pronounced aspects of our son’s Aspergers is his sensory hypersensitivity. He just hates the feel of certain objects and materials. For example he hates the feel of wool on his skin. He hates the feel of a scarf round his neck. He even hates the feel of the wind on his legs so he has not worn a pair of shorts since he was a toddler. He calls it an awful, almost painful sensation.

It is a common experience for many people on the spectrum. In particular the feeling can be worse when it’s centred on the hands and feet. It can materialise in different ways. Some find socks a blessing as they hate the feeling of the floor on their feet. The science talks about the brain have difficulty integrating the information from the five basic senses. Sensory Integration Disorder. Often we find the science interesting but of little practical help.

With our son he has no sensitivity related to his hands but his feet are another matter. He has always hated the feel of socks. He calls it the ‘worst feel ever’. You can see his body shaking when he has to put a sock on. At home it’s not a problem. In the garden it’s not a problem. He is always barefoot. When we go out he will often have shoes on with no socks. Even if this means getting blisters as that sensation is nowhere near the agony of socks. It helps that in the normal run of things he has such a high pain tolerance.

But for school he has to wear socks. We have tried ones specifically designed for autistic people but these did little to address the problem. Now we buy seamless ones which are as short as we can get away with. But they are still an unpleasant feeling for him. We have tried putting pressure on the feet (squeezing with your hands) or brushing the feet with a surgical brush prior to putting socks on (trying to desensitise the skin) – no help. Imagine trying to concentrate for 8 hours with that feeling gnawing at your soul. As soon as he returns home the socks are rapidly discarded. Son is happy and the flying socks makes the dog particularly happy as well.

51 thoughts on “Socks

  1. Oh my goodness, yes! We can relate. When Declan was younger it was hard to keep any clothes on him. Now, he will keep – well, at least his pants on – but as SOON as he comes home from anywhere his shoes and socks are off. Last summer we were trying to buy his back to school shoes and he just kept crying “my feet are hot!” The shoes, the SOCKS – all of it was way too much for him. So hard! Summer flip flops are what make him the happiest 🙂

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  2. Aw, that must be so horrible for him (socks)- I cannot even stretch my imagination enough to get a sense of how that must feel. But, I can sympathize with hating anything round his neck – I abhor scarves – I don’t care how pretty it might be or if it is minus 40 Celsius outside. I hate scarves. There really should be something done at his school to allow him to go without the darned things.

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    1. It won’t be just him, sadly too many kids will be made to feel uncomfortable. I remember his granny often saying that her school was strict but they did not have a uniform. They let the kids learn how to dress appropriately on their own rather than being told.

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      1. We had to wear uniforms when I was a child. I didn’t mind them but was glad when we moved and didn’t have to wear one at our new school. I think your son’s school needs to become aware of the degree of pain they are inflicting on your son. It’s such a sin.

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  3. can you request a note or order from his primary care doc to let him have a bare feet or shod feet only at school? you’d think with his diagnosis the school would be more accommodating.

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  4. Oh Gary. How awful for your son. It sounds excruciating for him. Oh if only people could understand and allow the socks to be dispensed with. This is must awful. I am sorry this is how it is Gary xx

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      1. I know, but I don’t believe it is. I do think that there are some people who are genuinely good and kind and they are to be cherished. Sadly however I think there are a lot of people overly influenced by money, fame or political gain which has a detrimental effect on our society. Gosh, I am a grumpy old goat! It’s just that I would love to see the system help more people like your lovely lad, but there’s just no common sense or anyone prepared to go out of their way to help.

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  5. I have to admit – after your last post that was NOT what i was expecting when i read the title! 😳

    Thank you so much for this insight into what is mostly an unknown world to me – and most others, i suspect.

    I used to find some parts of school distasteful as a kid, despite being quite good at most subjects, but to be made to put up with things you detest – or worse, that physically hurt – while the rest think everything is ‘normal’ doesn’t bear contemplating. 😦

    Out of interest, can he handle water on his bare legs, eg a bath, or a shower? Do you think it’s the contrast between covered and uncovered areas of the same limb or just the sensation of wind on skin/moving tiny hairs?? And the problem is with socks, but not with shoes?? baffling… but i’m certain there are answers/help to make things easier on him to be found. What and where is the issue.

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  6. His sensitivity to having his feet in contact with socks is not surprising. When my sensory loading due to ABI gets into a particular place my skin becomes hypersensitive. During these episodes having someone touch me is like experiencing a burning sensation at the points of contact. When it first started happening I didn’t even know how to describe the sensation. For me I think it was related to my brain being in overload and just not knowing how to processes the touch sensation in any meaningful way.
    I can begin to imagine how difficulty it would be for your son to live with his physical sensitivities particularly since they extend much beyond a fleeting moment.

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  7. One of mine claims the same with foam. He hates the sound of felt on carpet, or anything on carpet. He can’t stand crayons or pencils or markers on paper…. *sigh*

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  8. Hmmm. Damn, I can’t think of any decent alternative to socks, either. They do tend to all be made of the same thing, aren’t they? Damn. Even something like trouser socks or dress socks, which are mostly nylon or some such thing?

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  9. I share the wool thing. I have a couple of nice scarves (presents) that I can deal with if they are over my coat and don’t touch my neck, but all other wool has been banished!
    I see the point of school uniforms, but when they’re so rigid, they give us problems that we never have in adult life. For me it was the school jumper – nasty itchy wool! I even wore long-sleeved blouses in the summer so the horrid thing didn’t touch me! Later it improved because girls were allowed to wear jackets.
    I have no sock suggestions, but just wanted to say I know what you mean and it’s so good for your son that you take it seriously because sadly not all adults do.

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