Clothing Sensitivity Red Flags | The OT Toolbox

Clothing Sensitivity Red Flags

You might know a child who HATES that tag in the back of their shirt.  Maybe the seam of socks need to be lined up "just right".  Maybe you know a student who only wears shorts no matter the weather.  All of these clothing preferences might be a red flag related to a clothing sensitivity and sensory processing issues.

A clothing sensitivity related to specific clothing preferences is a common red flag related to sensory processing disorder. Because sensory processing challenges present differently in each child, there will be no list of clothing preferences that is the same for every child. There will also be no completely exhaustive list of red flags related to sensory processing issues or one that can indicate specific sensory issues.

However, it is possible to notice sensory needs related to clothing preferences and clothing sensitivity. The red flags listed below don't necessarily mean that a child has a sensory processing disorder, only that a more intense look at the child might be needed. If a child seems to have a number of clothing sensitivities, a full evaluation by an occupational therapist may be needed.

Clothing sensitivity red flags related to sensory processing disorder or sensory struggles in kids

Clothing sensitivity red flags



  • Prefers a specific clothing material (e.g. only cotton or only lightweight fabrics)
  • Child is bothered by seams
  • Is bothered by tags
  • Dislikes sleeves hitting wrists
  • Dislikes hems of pants hitting ankles
  • Wears only shorts even in very cold weather
  • Wears only pants even in very hot weather
  • Prefers clothing without buttons/snaps/zippers/ties
  • Sensitive to collars hitting neck
  • Unable to tolerate shoes
  • Prefers only certain socks or shoes
  • Dislikes when socks slide down in shoes
  • Prefers feet to be totally uncovered or totally covered
  • Unable to tolerate a belt or tight waistband
  • Dislikes underwear or prefers only a certain type of underwear
  • Bothered by seams in underwear
  • Bothered by length of underwear
  • Prefers tight clothing
  • Unable to tolerate jeans
  • Hates coats
  • Prefers heavy layers of clothing
  • Complains of "itching skin" with certain materials or types of clothing
  • Complains of clothing tickling the skin
  • Has meltdowns when it's time to get dressed in the morning
Need more information on all things sensory?  Grab this free sensory processing disorder information booklet. Its' perfect for those new to sensory processing or for passing on to parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers of children with sensory struggles. 


What clothing sensitivities have you seen?  This list could go on and on. As we all know...kids like to keep us on our toes! 

Want this list as a printable version? Grab it here.

Kids may experience preferences or a clothing sensitivity when they have sensory processing disorder or sensory issues.

These red flags are related to clothing sensitivities that may be an indication of sensory challenges in kids.






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