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DS refusal to get dressed

(8 Posts)
Worzel77 Thu 21-Aug-14 15:01:48

Hi all,

This is my first time of posting on here so hello to you all! I am looking for any advice on how to get my DS (aged 3.5,ASD and non verbal) to get dressed.

He is currently refusing to wear any coat of any kind including the one he wore all last winter! He will only wear one particular pair of shoes and when he grows out of them it takes about a week of tantrums and fighting with him to get him to accept a new pair.

He is extremely rigid about what he will agree to wear in general and has been like this for about the last year. I don't think it is particularly a sensory issue as he will refuse to wear things that he has happily worn before and dismisses things by sight. We managed to solve the problem he had with not liking certain pairs of patterned socks by changing all his socks to grey school type socks and this worked really well.

My guess is it is all down to a combination of him asserting himself and an extreme dislike for anything different. Although occasionally, very confusingly he will accept a new item of clothing with no problems.

I feel as if this issue is taking over our lives at the moment and am really worried about taking him out and about in Autumn if he won't wear a coat as I believe he would rather freeze than agree to wear a coat he was set against.

When I have asked the health care professionals about this issue they say that they haven't really come across it before with other children with ASD so any advice anybody could offer would be most welcome!

How can they not have come up against it before?! I would have thought it was very common. my DS is the same age, undiagnosed as yet (first assessment next week) and very verbal but we have similar issues...or he will refuse to take his coat off in a very hot room/when it's really sunny or refuse to wear any kind of coat when it's cold. I think for the coat refusal the best thing is just to take one out with you, let him know you have it if he wants it but don't insist he puts it on.

As for shoes could he have a choice between two pairs? DS has his fitted shoes (have discovered he prefers boots, I think it's a sensory thing) a cheap pair of baseball boots, some cheap sandals and wellies. I used to offer two choices but can now just get him to choose out of all od them..he never grows out of them all at once so there's always an element of familiarity even if one pair is new.
If he refuses to wear shoes I threaten the pushchair but that might not be an option for you.

Are you using makaton or similar with him? I'm wondering if offering a choice for each item might help - I say 'shirt or t.shirt?' then narrow it down to 'short or long sleeves' that kind of thing - if he's struggling to choose I pick two items and show him them. If you're using signs it might be a way to get familiar with some new ones and the element of choice might make him feel more in control. I suspect our issues are a mix of sensory, anxiety at the demand of the request/lack of control and worry because he lacks the fine motor skills to do it himself easily so I always offer to help.

I'm really surprised the HPs you've spoken to have no experience of this...isn't demand avoidance a big part of ASD for a lot of children?!

I'm sure some people with more experience will be along in a minute with some tips but really you're definitely not alone in this! grin

magso Thu 21-Aug-14 16:27:22

I agree it is a very common difficulty- well certainly ds was like it ( and still is at 14 although its easier than it was)

Worzel77 Thu 21-Aug-14 16:55:45

Thanks for the advice. It's good to hear I'm not alone as none of the other parents that I have spoken to with children with ASD have this problem and as I said the HPs weren't surprised to hear it but said they hadn't come across it before and didn't know what to advise.

My DS is the same as yours in that he often refuses to take his coat or shoes off indoors but also at times refuses to put them on it the first place.

There is definitely a lot of anxiety attached to clothes. If an item of clothing hasn't been worn for a while he sees it as 'new' so I have to try to keep all items worn regularly. He confuses me by sometimes refusing clothes he wears regularly though so it's not all about them being 'new'.

It is just unfortunate that during the summer he hasn't worn a coat so now all his coats are 'new' and he won't wear them. Think I will take your advice and just take a coat with us and let him know it's there if he wants it. Am worried he will catch a chill though as am sure he would rather go cold than accept a coat.

We are using PECS, could maybe try offering him the choice of pictures of clothing items and see how he responds, might make him feel more in control.

PolterGoose Thu 21-Aug-14 21:06:10

Poor temperature recognition is extremely common in kids with ASDs/sensory processing difficulties.

My ds had not worn a winter coat for years, he did wear one last winter but not often. There is no such thing as 'catching a chill' so don't worry, provide a coat, offer it, but don't push it.

magso Thu 21-Aug-14 22:56:01

I still tend to carry a coat for ds (and he is 14) because he has poor awareness of being cold or hot. He has a couple that can be rolled up quite small. He only really notices temperature extremes, so once he is seriously cold he will want a coat -right away ( and pinch mine if a more suitable option was not available- in fact he would prefer my warmed up one to the cold one from my bag). He says clothes are itchy and sweaty, and particularly dislikes the weight of them. He is very fussy about what he fancies wearing, and like your son will have days when a previous favourite is rejected. It has got easier now he can talk! He doesn't like the feel of waistbands, but can't cope with them falling down either. Sock seams are particularly trying so we buy seamless socks where possible (M&S ultimate comfort school socks). Hats and gloves are a no-no except in freezing conditions and then only once he has got numb with cold, because he seems unable to predict that he will get cold, or put up with the discomfort of wearing them before the cold becomes a greater discomfort. Some children like heavier coats but for ds its the soft light ones, with a soft fluffy lining he prefers. I think smell can be an issue too. Ds has a curious way of sniffing lost bit of uniform and knowing (accurately) who they belong to. If smell is important prewashing new clothes in your familiar soap powder might help acceptance - and softness.
Ds too will reject clothes he previously accepted. It used to be mystifying, but he will often say why now. Sometimes its that a spider walked on it, (he is afraid the spider will return) or just that it doesn't feel right. I think he is fearful new or unfamiliar clothes won't be comfortable.

magso Thu 21-Aug-14 23:19:49

Sorry I did not answer the how in your question. Frankly at 3.5 I really struggled. Agree with limited choices. Ds also liked a bit of competition - could he get his clothes on before me or the timer ( usually the timer with me assisting), but that might not appeal to everyone. I of course discreetly made sure he did win almost always if he wanted to. A bit later on a magnetic chart helped for a little while (pants - tick, tee shirt- tick, trousers- tick) , rewards once basics done helped -penny for the chocolate 'machine', (buying up advent calendars are good for this) bubble blowing wand, popup dragon game.

Worzel77 Sat 23-Aug-14 18:39:27

Thanks for your ideas. Maybe ds is fearful that certain items of clothes won't be comfortable, like your son. I guess it will remain a mystery until he can talk why he rejects things he's worn previously. Today shoes were no good so had to take him out in his pushchair.

I like the idea of the 'chocolate machine' will give that one a try although not sure if he will understand it quite yet.

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