She is very obsessive about what she wants to wear and only likes particular items of clothing. If allowed to follow her obsessions she would end up with literally one item of clothing that she would wear 100% of the time.
This is almost where we got to by winter last year. She had decided that she only wanted to wear swimming costumes, no matter what the weather, that was all she wanted to wear. Even worse, she started to reject some of the swimming costumes I offered and only wanted particular ones.
Obviously this caused terrible issues around school, home, and being out and about. We were extremely concerned that she was very vulnerable and was not suitably dressed for any weather conditions. Her community nurse got involved and, after I completely and utterly failed in getting her to wear anything else, it was decided that she would be referred to a child psychiatrist, who studied Charlotte as part of her degree, and she undertook an assessment to find where the difficulties laid.
It became clear that a lot of the issue was to do with sensory processing, that Charlotte felt more secure with the tightness of the material and that deep pressure activities would be good for her. She also prescribed a low dose of fluoxetine (Prozac) to attempt to lessen Charlotte's anxiety and sensitivity so that, hopefully, we could work more closely with her. It was also decided that she would spend two weeks in a respite provision where they would work on getting her to wear something else.
After the fortnight, even respite had great difficulty, but managed to get Charlotte to wear a skirt and cardigan over her swimming costume, which at least covered her a little more, and she was warmer. But the fact remained that she was still wearing swimming costumes, and she had to completely strip off to go to the toilet, which caused problems in itself, especially as she wasn't bothered about closing the bathroom door! The fluoxetine made some difference too; she was a little more patient and able to cope with change.
I, and her community nurse, tried in vain with various behavioural plans and ideas and I considered the evidence and thought that perhaps a two piece swimsuit would be better, and then at least she wouldn't have to strip off to go to the toilet. Not bikinis, but the ‘tankini' style which have a short vest type top. School were even more unhappy as she was showing a large amount of midriff and so the battle went on.
By this time I was worn out, fed up of being subjected to all the attention of concerned outside agencies and ready to give up. I was so stressed, and we were getting nowhere. Charlotte decided that she only wanted particular swimsuits and one particular skirt, so I trawled eBay and charity shops trying to find identical skirts. I ended up with 10 of the same skirt, a dark red velvety gypsy type skirt with a bead design on the waistband. She kept tearing the skirts, the layers would come apart at the seams because she was so boisterous as she played, and trying to keep up with her was impossible!
After about six months of this going on, it was decided that the next step was even more intensive work in a specialist hospital children's unit. She would be spending six weeks there, during which time she was to be given assessments by many different professionals involved in a wide range of issues affecting children with autism and learning difficulties. They were also going to do some intensive work on getting her to wear different types of clothes and remove the swimming costumes altogether.