“My son has sensory sensitivity. Do you think he would like these boxers?” A common question we receive at JustWears, and one I always have the answer for. YES! To quote Ned Flanders, many of our customers claim their JustWears feels “like they’re wearing nothing at all!” While this is a plus for most of our customers, it is crucial for those in the Neurodivergent community. Clothes made from synthetic materials can be unbearable to people with ADHD, OCD, or Autism Spectrum Disorder, who have a different sensory experience than those who are neurotypical. Synthetic blends can feel prickly, strange, and painful in some cases. It is always better to choose a natural fabric like Micromodal Air.
What is neurodivergence?
‘Neurodivergent’ is a non-medical umbrella term that describes people with variations in their mental functions as the brain responds differently to ‘normal’ stimuli that neurotypical people are often unaware of, which can cause discomfort to the large demographic of people who are on the spectrum. It can include conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other neurological or developmental conditions such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
There are many misconceptions about these conditions. That they aren’t really ‘real’ conditions and can be willed away or that those on the spectrum have damage to the brain. Neurodivergence is currently understood as being a processing delay that affects the nervous system. In many cases, what is actually happening is that the brain sends too many signals around the body, which is why polyester and cotton underwear can feel uncomfortable.
Imagine your brain as a master conductor, orchestrating a symphony of sensations. In the area of the brain called the ‘Somatosensory Cortex’, the brain's touch-processing region, a captivating dance of neural pathways occurs. Specialised cells called ‘Mechanoreceptors’ perform a delightful ballet, sending signals to the brain when you touch different textures, temperatures, or pressures. This mesmerising symphony lays the foundation of all of our tactile experiences, transforming touch into an extraordinary sensory adventure. For neurodivergent people, this can be even more experiential, sometimes pleasurable and at other times, extremely overwhelming.
Why does it matter?
Touch sensitivity or Sensory Processing Tactile Defensiveness varies widely among individuals, offering a rich tapestry of sensory experiences, particularly for those who are neurodivergent. Heightened sensitivity can intensify even the gentlest touch, while others seek deep pressure or specific textures for comfort. What feels pleasant for some people can cause complete sensory overload for others.
The brain is being bombarded by an avalanche of sensations where every touch, texture, and contact feels magnified and overwhelming. Tactile sensory overload amplifies even the gentlest sensations, transforming them into a cacophony of intensity. Fabrics that are usually comfortable may suddenly feel scratchy or abrasive, while seemingly innocuous touches may elicit an almost painful response. It's as if the world's touch dial has been turned to maximum, inundating the senses and making every interaction a sensory battleground.
How does this affect neurodivergent people?
Tactile sensory overload not only affects the physical senses but also takes a toll on emotions. The bombardment of intense sensations can trigger feelings of anxiety, frustration, and even fear. It's like being caught in a whirlwind of emotions, struggling to find a sense of calm amidst the sensory storm. Everyday activities that others may take for granted, such as getting dressed or hugging a loved one, can become daunting and emotionally charged experiences. The constant fight to regulate and process these overwhelming sensations can be exhausting and emotionally draining for neurodivergent people as well as their friends, families and carers.
Imagine you are wearing that itchy jumper grandma made you around your bum. Scratchiness, discomfort, and, in some more extreme cases, pain are constant distractions throughout your day at work or school. How would you cope and focus? What can be done to help? Well, luckily, using more natural materials that offer a less invasive sensory experience can make a big impact in the quality of life for those on the spectrum.
How design can help
There is no denying that the world wasn’t built with neurodivergent people in mind. Revolving doors, alarming sounds or bright lights are apart of all of our everyday experiences but can trigger sensory overload for people with neurodivergence. Considering an unknown, yet potentially staggering number of us exist on the spectrum, it’s about time we consider how we can make the world a more inclusive place.
MicroModal Air underwear offers numerous benefits for individuals with tactile sensitivity. Its gentle and soft fabric, enhanced breathability, and eco-friendly nature combine to provide a sensory experience that nurtures your well-being.
Natural fabrics like Micromodal Air set off a delightful cascade of neurochemicals in the brain, bringing joy and satisfaction to the forefront. Dopamine, the pleasure and reward neurotransmitter, takes centre stage, creating a sense of delight. People who live with ADHD often refer to themselves as dopamine Junkies because the ADHD brain has a hard time producing this. Additionally, oxytocin, the "cuddle hormone," appears, evoking warmth and connection. These neurochemical reactions not only enhance our tactile experiences but also contribute to our overall well-being, leaving us with a grin from ear to ear.
Indulge in the comfort and soothing touch of MicroModal Air as you prioritise your tactile sensations. Choose MicroModal Air underwear to enhance your comfort and support sustainable practices while allowing you to navigate the world with comfort and tranquillity.Choose from our range of Boxer briefs, Trunks and briefs as well as t-shirts.