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.