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Buying your Autistic Child the Right Sock

Previously, we discussed a condition called Sensory Processing Disorder, which can alter the way a child perceives the sense of touch. Soft toddler socks might feel like burning sandpaper, for example. While SPD is a serious disorder, many learning disabled or neuroatypical children have a similar sensitivity to touch that should not be confused with SPD.

“Neuroatypical” is a term coined by the autistic community of high-functioning adults as well as parents of autistics as part of a neurodiversity movement. In short, a neuroatypical brain processes information differently from a neurotypical one, highlighting different senses or functions more than others. A person might process tactile information, or touch, at a much more sensitive degree than sight, smell or sound. This person may also become inundated by the intensity of the information, resulting in what mainstream society perceives as typical autistic behavior.

Regarding children’s clothing, such as socks or tights, very soft materials such as baby socks are generally recommended, with the tags removed. Clothing that is weighted, or exerts pressure such as kids’ tights, may also have a calming effect, particularly during stemming or other typically autistic behaviors. Autistic children are not afraid of touch- they simply require the right kinds of touch, that they expect as part of routine or as affection, and that does not trigger intense sensitivity. For more information, visit Autism Speaks.