How I've Made Progress in My Love-Hate Sensory Relationship With Socks


It might be an issue more associated with sensory processing disorder rather than autism, but I think it’s also related to autism, because we often don’t explain the discomfort to the people around us.

We may not know you don’t feel the same way we do about socks. Some of us might believe our behavior should be self-explanatory, because socks just suck that much. I have very early memories regarding the unpleasantness of socks. They felt like fiberglass burning into my ankles, and the seam was like a large lizard wiggling around on my toes.

When I was a baby, my mother liked to dress me in socks with lace trim. I hated lace more than anything. Thinking about those socks makes me itch. Nothing could ever make them feel right. Looking around me, everyone had socks. I thought it was unbelievable. Why on Earth would anyone put up with this much pain?

My mother said it was to protect my shoes, because shoes are expensive. It was a logical enough explanation, but as I got older I remember rubbing my feet and ankles raw by pawing at my socks.

Wet socks and wet clothing have always been impossible for me. My mother once asked me to put on wet socks. I can’t remember very clearly what happened after she asked that question (perhaps I had a meltdown), but I feel like the situation ended with vomit.

As I got older, I started picking my own socks at the store. Ankle socks with no seam in the toe were my favorite when I could find them on sale. I had expensive taste in socks. If I can’t find socks without a seam, I prefer ankle socks with a seam on top, but they have to be soft.

I tried wearing shoes without socks. Most of the time I ended up with blisters on my tender feet. My balance is not the best, and I am a bit clumsy. I imagine my feet take quite a beating when not protected by socks.

Flats were great, until my feet began to sweat. Pools of sweat feel like oceans in my shoes — it is almost as bad as wet socks.

I try to stock up when I find a type of sock I like. If a company changes their socks, it will take me a while to get used to them.

Nothing is more annoying to me than a sock problem. The distraction is so intense, it becomes hard to think about anything else without stimming. Maybe that is why I went barefoot so much as a child. I loved the feel of warm, dry grass and hot asphalt on my feet.

I don’t run around with my shoes off anymore. Now that I’ve found socks that feel nice, I prefer not to feel small things under my feet. (As an adult at 125 pounds, my feet hurt more when stepping on objects than they did when I was closer to 60 pounds.)

Even now, there are some sensory days when I just can’t handle socks. If that happens, I don’t wear them. It’s that easy. It is not fair that I put myself through the torture.

Itchy socks take away my valuable spoons. I need those. They are mine.

I’ve been wearing socks for over 30 years now. It has taken me a long time to go from hating socks to loving socks.

Baby steps. Progress is progress, no matter how long it takes.

Image via Thinkstock.

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