“Just try the jeans on!” I say. “Look there are so many and they are all different kinds. Oh!” I exclaim, holding up an especially adorable pair with blingy buttons, “These are so cute!”
“Mom. I don’t wear jeans.” protests my nine-year-old daughter.
“I know. I know. But these are so cute. Ooooh! An adjustable waist? Perfect! Just try them on.”
“I don’t like jeans.”
“Maybe you just need to try them again?”
“I don’t like the way they feel”
“JUST TRY THEM ON!” I scream. And she does. She buttons them, zips them, and then immediately starts squirming around uncomfortably in them.
“I just need to take them off. Right. Now.” She cries. And she does. And I let her.
ADHD or SPD?
Does this sound familiar? If so, you may be dealing with someone with ADHD and/or Sensory Processing Disorder. The two are similar. The two can co-exist or be so intertwined that you do not know if it is one or the other. Or both. How can you tell the difference? There is a fine line. I like this chart on Understood.org “Differences Between ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder in Children.” If you take a moment to look at their webpage, you will see that there are many overlapping traits. I am no expert on differentiating the two, but I do know that no matter what it is that you’re facing, you will have to adjust your expectations of your child’s attire.
Clothing sensitivity is common in both ADHD and SPD. Tags, seams, and rough fabrics can irritate a child enough that they cannot think or move past the irritation. This annoyance could prevent them from being able to complete a task or to learn a lesson. Most parents take the path of least resistance. Find the seamless socks. Get the underwear without exposed elastic. Cut out the tags. Wear the pants without buttons and zippers. No big deal, right?
Personally, I don’t care if my daughter ever wears jeans or not. In fact, if I could get away with wearing stretchy spandex pants every day, I might be inclined to do so as well. The issue with pants arises when we face the school dress code. Although she is not there yet, middle school is less than a year and a half away. The dress code there is cut and dry:
The following items have been determined to be unacceptable for wear at school:
· jeggings, tights, leggings or yoga pants
This is the first item on the list. They mean business. There is no “unless a long top covers your bum” clause in the rule. It is what it is.
And that isn’t going to work for us.
What can you do?
Even though she is still only in fourth grade, I am starting to make the case for a pro-legging middle school existence. I don’t know if I can single handedly fight a district-wide dress code. I’d like to think that I have the strength and the energy to do so, but that isn’t very realistic. I know I will need help. Possibly your help? Possibly you need help too? I have some time to pull documentation and evidence as to why button-less, zipper-less pants are essential to my child’s learning. But I imagine there are people out there who don’t have time and don’t know where to start. My heart goes out to your children who are forcing themselves into jeans every day even though it’s negatively affecting their learning. I think there is a solution though. Let’s figure it out together. Let me know if you have any ideas. I’ll be here fighting the good fight on my end…sporting my yoga pants.