My son has "super hero senses". That's what I call them. Since he was a baby, he's been hyper sensitive to so many things...many related to his ARFID. Obviously, texture and taste was an issue his first year, but I also noticed it in so many other areas. When he was a toddler, he hesitated to walk barefoot on the grass. Then the sand was an issue. Trimming finger nails sends him through the roof - even at age 11 he needs me to cut them. Washing his hair...oh boy! He has to hold a wash cloth over his face and sometimes it just doesn't get done. He is getting better at doing it, but it's hard on him. Swimming lessons continue to be difficult - the temp of the water and putting his head under water. All tags on all clothes must be cut off. Smells get him ("What is that smell?") Noises get him ("It's too loud!"). And heat... one time we traveled to Arizona and when he stepped out of the car for his first time, he started crying and panicking and tried to get back in the car.
At first, I didn't piece it all together, but over time it has revealed itself to me. He is not being difficult, although it can appear that way. He is not trying to be defiant in these situations. He just has super hero senses... and he is merely reacting to his nervous system freaking him out. I'm not a doctor, but that's my assessment. And instead of working against my son and trying to push him to do these things that cause him to panic, I started to really pay attention to him and help him navigate them.
When he takes a shower, I give him an extra little towel to put over his face for washing his hair. I give him tips on how to wash his hair and talk to him about enjoying the relaxing feeling of warm water running over his head. He's started to take long showers - so I just let him use all the hot water up and learn to enjoy.
Another thing that I noticed about my son is that he scratches or "picks" at himself a lot. Usually in places where the clothes rub on him. He won't wear jeans because they are too "scratchy". He won't wear shirts with pictures or pockets on them because he can feel the picture or pocket from the inside of the shirt and he doesn't like that. His legs look like he has a bunch of mosquito bites, which I asked his pediatrician about. He said that my son feels the itch SO much greater than the average person does, so instead of just lightly scratching - he goes at it. He said that I should frequently put lotion on his legs to keep him from feeling the itch in the first place. He also said something that didn't occur to me before...he said that we should deal with the sensory piece before even trying the ARFID therapy. That was interesting to me and made perfect sense.
We have been in and out of Occupational Therapy soooo many times. We did the brushing, played with shaving cream, and so many other things, but ARFID was always the focus. I think it would be interesting to try out some therapy with sensory goals being the full focus and then see how the results impact the ARFID. I'm also curious to see how we can deal with these things at his age. I wonder if he will outgrow some of the sensory issues? The important thing I learned is to pay attention to my son and help him navigate all of these things instead of fighting him on them. This will be interesting...
I am an ARFID Mom. I am the mother of a 12 year old boy with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). I have become the "expert" on my son's feeding issues. I am here to share what I've learned.