Friday, July 30, 2010
Dressing Up A Sensory Guy
People with sensory issues often have strong clothing preferences. I don't know if this is generally true, but in my experience most men do not enjoy dressing up. The men I know prefer comfortable clothing. They call their attractive dressier outfits "monkey suits" and yank their ties loose at the first opportunity as if their oxygen has been reduced and they need to gasp for air. Now add together "man who prefers comfortable clothes" with "sensory guy" and you'll see the issues faced by my son. A few weeks ago we were getting ready to attend a wedding reception. I informed Josh that he would need to dress up for the event. To Josh, "dress nicely" means wearing jeans without holes. Josh doesn't own a lot of dress clothes for the obvious reasons that he doesn't typically need them and he doesn't like to wear them. I asked my husband, Scott, to help Josh find something nice to wear. They are close to the same size, so sometimes they can share clothing in a pinch. This was a pinch, all right. Scott, who like Josh has AD/HD, didn't spend a lot of time selecting an outfit. He found something that matched and tossed it to Josh to put on. Then Scott was off to do something else. A few minutes later, I found a distressed Josh in my room. He looked truly miserable, although quite handsome. When asked what the problem was, he started describing how uncomfortable his clothes were. The shirt needed to be tucked in, but then wasn't comfortable. The cuffs around the wrist felt odd, but were tolerable. The shirt material was a little scratchy. I tried to tell Josh that it was necessary to dress up for special occasions and he quickly explained that it wasn't dressing up that bothered him. It was being dressed up by someone else. His Dad has made the choices for him, and because Dad doesn't have sensory issues he selected what would work for most men. Josh is the only one who knows how his body feels and responds to clothing, though, so we needed to make some adjustments. A change of pants for a looser fit made tucking in the shirt more comfortable. A belt held things comfortably in place - not too tight, not too loose, but just right. A plain cotton, tagless t-shirt under the dress shirt made Josh much more comfortable. Having the tie a wee bit looser but barely noticeable rounded out the outfit. Josh didn't own any dress shoes and his feet are bigger than Scott's, so he wore his nicest boots and it didn't look too bad. Tomorrow we are going to a wedding, and sensory guy Josh will be dressing himself up again. We bought a pair of dressier shoes (Rockports) that are slip-ons, with a little elastic around the tongue of the shoe for flexibility and comfort. Josh tried on several slip-on style shoes and found that some of the styles bothered him because they did not come up high enough on the back of his heel and he could feel them slipping around. The shoes Josh picked were high enough on his heel and comfortable, so hopefully the sensory guy will be able to relax and enjoy his time at the wedding and reception even though he is in a "monkey suit".