Along with the way the clothes "felt" another cardinal rule was no television characters whatsover on any article of clothing. Ryan had every phrase, song and facial expression of the 15 VHS tapes of Thomas the Tank Engine memorized so to say he loved Thomas would be a gross understatement. After scoring a Thomas shirt at a local department store, I rushed home to put it on him. Big. Mistake. You would have thought I bought him a shirt made of porcupine quills. "No, no, no" he screamed!!! "No Thomas on shirt, no, no not on shirt!!" What was the big deal? It was 100% cotton and sure it was made in Vietnam, but surely the cotton was soft in Vietnam. Fine, Thomas stayed in the closet along with shirts with Teletubbies (can't say I blame him on that one) and Elmo. All shirts with characters, regardless of fiber content, completely stressed him out. If they appeared on TV, then they didn't belong on a shirt. It was like he had things filed in his AWEmazing brain as "characters that I watch on TV" which meant they were not in the file of "characters that belong on shirts". I know you aren't suppose to use the word weird, but AWEnestly sometimes there isn't a word more fitting and I thought this behavior was totally weird.
I was grateful that at least he had a few shirts, pants and pajamas that were acceptable so I didn't have to do laundry every single day. Now shoes and coats were an entirely different story. Typically at this toddler/preschool age you have one winter coat (and no hats or mittens...EVER) and one coat for spring/fall for your child. Poor Ryan, by the time spring rolled around and it was time to put the winter coat away, he had just finally gotten use to it. I swear there were many days he was in his carseat sweating in April as he still preferred his parka. Seasonal changes were very difficult for my routine craving boy.
Shoes. Wow, coming from the womb of a mother whose blood pressure and heartrate accelerates in the shoe department, the apple couldn't have fallen farther from the tree. One day I may end up in the nursing home and although I may forget who I am, my filter (which is pretty ineffective without adding dementia) may be totally gone and I may once again drink from a sippy cup, I promise you I will NEVER forget the first time we put sandals on Ryan. I purchased him the cutest pair of Teva sandals and although he protested with "no, no, no....udder shoes" I was determined to put these cute overpriced sandals that I had already removed every TAG from (of course I did) on his all too sensitive feet.
After finally strapping his very reluctant piggy toes in his sandals we went outside to try them out. While he continued to protest, I kept pointing at Mommy's sandals, Daddy's sandals and even ultra cool brother Kyle's sandals. That boy wouldn't have cared if they were Jesus' sandals, he wanted them off his feet. The part that was so freaking funny was he never once tried to remove them. He just stood there stuck to the front porch as if his feet and ankles were encased in cement. His entire body would move, but I promise you a meteor could have come crashing down on our sidewalk and his feet wouldn't have budged. Being the AWEsome mom that I am, my neighbor and I stood there laughing hysterically which I know sounds so mean and awful (I promise I love my boy to the sun and back, I'm just easily amused), but I had never seen anything like it! It was like some episode of Wile E Coyote and the Roadrunner where quite obviously I was the nasty coyote and since I was doubled over laughing at my poor trapped Roadrunner I certainly deserved a stick of dynamite thrown at me.
I eventually learned that the deep pressure of his sneakers and socks felt good on him and the lightweight sandals were too light and bothersome. Believe it or not, my fella today loves flip flops and sandals. In fact when school comes around in the fall there are complaints of his sneakers being too tight. He is now much more accomodating with clothing too, but there are requirements and routines. Ryan will wear jeans and Hollister tshirts (short sleeve only) to school, but he immediatley comes home and puts on silk sport shorts (the month or the season makes no difference) and sometimes prefers his fleece Mario blanket wrapped around him like a cape instead of a shirt. It's all trial and error with my sweet boy and having the patience while his overloaded system adjusts. And though you may judge me for laughing at my defenseless little Road Runner, it is AWEnestly the ability to laugh loudly and love deeply that keeps all families touched by autism afloat. That and the fact that Hollister makes the softest tshirts in the world and that fleece pants are very in style. Yes, I pray that the CEO of Hollister has a sound business plan for the next 80 years and that people won't judge my son when he is 65 and still sporting a Hollister Swin Naked in San Diego tshirt.