Like many people on the Autism spectrum, I have a LOT of sensory sensitivities that can be extremely distracting, distrustful, and overwhelming… textures, tastes, sounds, smells, you name it. Throughout the years, as I’ve become more self-aware, I have learned lots of very easy simple little fixes and workarounds to mitigate my hyper-senses. Sure, the problem is disabling, but the solution is quite often exactly the opposite, and it’s the little fixes that make a BIG difference for me.
I’m extremely sensitive to textures. Food is a big issue for me due to that, but clothing also plays a major role. Unlike a lot of autistic kids, I never preferred to be naked. In fact, I HATED it (and still do). I need to have clothing covering as much of my skin as possible, to shield it from external shifts and changes. I can’t stand it when air hits my legs/arms/belly/skin, etc. The changing air currents are distracting and I’m really sensitive to the way they hit me. It can make my skin crawl, make my stomach churn, and send me tail-spinning into “agitated-flappy-land”. I do have issues with certain fabrics, especially most dress-clothes – they’re too smooth, so I wear the same thing nearly all of the time – jeans, t-shirt (or long sleeved t-shirt), fleece jacket or sometimes hoodie. I don’t like brushing up against anything directly on my skin, so I keep mostly covered. It helps that I’m nearly always cold, so staying bundled up serves 2 purposes at once – yay!
One of the easiest and simplest ways that I solved my sensory sensitivity issues was with my feet. I nearly always wear socks. And when I’m NOT wearing socks, I am standing on either a towel (eg. after a shower), or on a carpet. I like having a layer between me and the outside world. A thin layer, so that I can feel how the ground contours under my feet, but not so that I also feel the textures up against my skin – uniform micro-texture does wonders for me. And so I wear socks everywhere, nearly all the time. In fact, I prefer socks over shoes, because I love feeling the ground through my socks. I just prefer to put a barrier between my skin and the ground.
And so, I have a special place in my heart for socks. I don’t like just any socks, they have to go up at LEAST mid-shin. None of those little ankle socks, because if I move wrong, my pants might bunch up and allow air between the sock and the jean, making my ankles and lower legs uncomfortable. I’m also very picky about the texture of the socks themselves – they have to be soft, but not too squishy. And none of those boring white athletic socks either (except in very specific circumstances – they have an OK texture, but its boring). I wear “fun” socks. Socks with animals on them. Socks with stripes and rainbows. Socks with musical notes. Socks with all sorts of patterns. I have a set of Harry Potter House Socks (of course, my favorites are Ravenclaw – not just because that’s the house I would be in, but because they’re blue, too – my favorite color), and socks with science-y things on them. Soft socks with patterns make me super duper happy. In fact, on my birthday, I ask people for socks. Because sadly, the socks I like are usually expensive ($7+ per pair), and I have killer big toes, that no matter how short I keep my toenails, they still manage to wear holes in them rather quickly. Once a sock has a hole, it’s sadly time to say goodbye to it, as I can’t deal with the sensation of my toes going through holes. But I can’t throw them out – they’re special. So instead I repurpose them. I sometimes cut holes in the heels to make arm-socks (for when it is really cold in the lab), or I use them for various crafts. Socks make me very happy, and are a wonderful way to regulate my sensory system, to boot. (No pun intended – I only noticed it on my 3rd read-through. But take it as you may.) Yay for socks!
My posts will be shorter and less frequent for a little while, as I’m very involved with school this quarter (oral exam that tells whether I stay or go is in less than 2 months!), and the reading alone leaves no time for anything else at all. I’m going to make this into a series, though – I have all sorts of little things I do to help keep my sensory system calmer, and keep myself functional throughout the day, so I’ll be sharing them in little snippets. At least that’s the plan. If you enjoy my blog, or have gotten something useful out of it (or I hope, both :)), please consider voting for it on Babble – click on the blue badge on the right-hand sidebar. Thanks for reading!