My 6 yr old daughter is primarily having difficulty with clothes. At age 3, she began having resistance to certain shoes, socks, and clothing. Seams, cloth type, and tags were and is her obsession. Somedays it takes 2 hours for the act of getting dressed, constantly changing her mind about what she will wear, becoming angry in the process. She wakes up happy and when it is time to get dressed, she immediately changes her mood, without any precursors. Her routine is maintained daily.
She performs well in 1st grade, performs well socially, and is very outgoing. She presents this to me, a single parent. I have not identified any physical or dermatological issues, her eczema is well controlled. She visits her father once weekly and every other weekend, and does not display this level of behavior with him, although her clothing issues are still spoke of , but not at the degree of when she is with me. During the time of getting dressed in the mornings, she becomes frustrated, angry, and sometimes hollers and cries that it doesn't feel right to her(either to loose or too tight), eventually having clothes on her that are either not appropriate for season, or do not match at all. I allow her to wear what she wishes, so that she is comfortable. My question is it a mental disorder that I should have looked into? In stores, she has a very difficult time picking out clothes and has no interest , and if she does, she changes her mind so often that if bought, and at home, she will likely not wear it or complain severely. I have tried to talk with her. She picks her own clothes out at the store and at home and continues to direct the anger and frustration to me. Recently she has become resistant to combing her hair and brushing her teeth.
The differnetial diagnosis for your daughter is Sensory Integration Disorder vs Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The former is more likely, though it often happens that children who display OCD also show some difficulties in the area of sensory integration. A sensible place to start would be an evaluation by an Occupational Therapist. This is the professional discipline that is responsible for diagnosing and treating Sensory Integration Disorder (as well as many other conditions). If the evaluation finds no problems, you could pursue an evlaution with a pediatric mental health professional (e.g., clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, psychiatric nurse, child psychiatrist). Such conditions are not directly related to psychosocial precipitants, though the symptoms can be more frequent/intense if a child is under stress.
My daughter who just turned 8 has had clothing issues for the past 6 months, but she has had other issues since she was about 3. She had terrible separation anxiety starting during the second half of preschool which continued through 4 yr. old preschool. When she went to kindergarten she had issues with her hair. It had to be a certain way, she would only wear a headband, if it got messed up, she would be a complete wreck. I thought a 5 year old shouldn't be concerned that much with her hair so I sought professional help. She saw a child psychologist who diagnosed her with obsessive compulstive disorder. My daughter also had issues with washing her hands - she had to rinse them continuously until I dragged her from the sink, she didn't like sticky things, and she didn't like change. She had to have her day mapped out and if anything came up that wasn't expected it would throw a monkey wrench into everything. She would throw tantrums like a two year old. Well, during 2nd grade now she has had an obsession with her clothes. They have to be extremely tight. Her pants have the built in elastic waistband that she has pulled and fastened as tight as possible. Her shoes are tied so tight she almost breaks the laces. Shirts don't bother her - as long as they are loose and not tight! Go figure! Anyway, her pants and shoes leave red marks and impressions on her skin they are so tight. There was a time when she wanted to wear the same pair of pants everyday to school because she liked the way they felt. They were "safe". Well, I said to myself, why not let her wear the same pants if she's happy. But then I realized if I let her do that (adults can't get away with wearing the same thing day in and day out), in the future I'll have bigger problems to deal with. Anyway, I made her wear different pants - I didn't give in to her tantrums, screaming, crying, etc. She now wears something different every day. For the tightness of her clothes I stick to my guns and tell her she can't tighten things up so tight. I've found when I've stayed firm in my decision, she does as she's told. She still grumbles and complains and tries to sway my decision, but she obeys. Believe me, I have spent countless amounts of dollars trying to buy clothes that "feel right" which in the store she says yes she'll wear them, but once you get them home, they never get worn. Maybe you could buy just a few items, stick with her wearing them and see how that goes.
I do agree with the dr. though and have her checked out by a professional. Having my daughter diagnosed with OCD has made my life easier because I can understand her thinking process better and I now know steps to help her overcome her obsessions.
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