If you look in my closet, you will see sweaters, shirts and pants, just like anyone else closet. If you look closer at my clothes, you will see that none of them have tags on them. This is a relatively new thing for me. over the years, I have become increasingly sensitive to how my clothes feel. I am not sure if this is because I am getting older and more sensitive or if I have been on the lookout for anything that might cause discomfort for so long that I have become hyper aware.
Since Matthew was an infant, his reaction to the world around him had been extreme. Loud noises would send him into a screaming fit. His bottle had to be the right temperature he loved to be swaddled at tight as you could make it. As he got older, he would run at me at 100 miles an hour and crash into me and he was so clumsy. He would spin around and if it was loud, his hands would be up covering his ears. He would not walk in the grass or touch anything squishy or slimy and getting his haircut was an event that we needed to be emotionally prepared for. The list could honestly go on forever.
His little brain just had trouble sorting through and making sense of all of the sights, sounds, smells and things happening happening in the world around him. With everything being to loud or scratchy or smelly, it was no wonder that he spent a lot of time being cranky. It became part of our world too spending so much time evaluating what was going on around us to make sure that Matthew would be able tolerate where he was at any given moment. What we found was, there are many simple solutions to make it easier.
When we say “sensory friendly” when talking about our events and activities at Matthew’s Helping Hands, we are taking into account all of the things that Matthew has taught us might be too much. We will continue to be sensitive to these things in everything that we do just as we did for Matthew.
Some of Matthew’s favorites were:
Weighted blankets (for him, the heavier the better)Jumping into a closet filled with soft stuffed animals
Stuffing his shirt and pants as much as he could with stuffed animals
Playing with uncooked rice (give it a try. I bet that you will love it too;)
Watching and listening to marbles falling through a plastic tube
Big hugs and squeezes
Having his feet/hands rubbed
Being in a comfy swing
Jumping on a trampoline (bed, couch…)
Pants without buttons or zippers
Cutting off tags
I have recently found myself running my hands over everything, paying attention to how it feels. Some things feel yucky and some actually have the power to put my mind at ease. When you figure what feels good and what doesn’t, life can become a whole lot easier to take.