Most of us in the SPD world are familiar with Chew Jewelry for kids which can be great for oral stimming, calming and organizing the sensory system. But this post is about jewelry, decorations, baubles. The pretty stuff!
When a person has sensory processing disorder jewelry can be uncomfortable. Necklaces may feel heavy or restrictive. Earrings may irritate and pull down on the lobes causing headaches. Rings and bracelets may cut off circulation in both the fingers and wrists. In fact, perhaps if you’re child has SPD you may consider holding off on piercing their earrings until you know what they can tolerate.
So if you love the look of jewelry, but not the feel, what is a person to do?
Here are a few suggestions on mixing SPD and Jewelry:
1. Test the metal. First, rule out if you’re having an allergic reaction to the metal, or metal plating, on your jewelry. Some signs that you’re having an allergic reaction to your jewelry is redness or a rash, swelling,and/or pain. Think you’ll get over your allergic reaction and wear the jewelry piece anyway? Long-term allergen exposure may cause your skin to darken, cracked in specific areas, or leathery. I’ve had an allergic reaction to a set of earrings and it was very painful. I later learned that the earrings had nickel in them, with nickel being the most common type of allergic contact dermatitis. Nickel may be found in some 14K and 18K gold, so it’s not just the cheaper, decorative earrings that can cause allergic reactions.
Super sensitive to metals? Try hypoallergenic styles and see if that helps.
2. Test the size. For me, there is nothing worse than a ring that is too tight. It feels like I’m suffocating and I can’t think straight. Yes, rational me knows that I don’t breath through my ring finger, but when a ringis squeezing me I somehow stop breathing. For anyone with SPD, all I can say is, “go big.” Give yourself lots of wiggle room and lot of “I ate potato chips last night and my knuckles are the size of walnuts” big. It may seem obvious, but give yourself length in a necklace. Perhaps chokers are not your style if they make you feel strangled.
3. Lighten up. Is your gold necklace weighing you down? I had a gold flowered necklace that I loved, but could never wear because of the weight. I couldn’t get over the feel of it or how it weighed on my chest. Plus my hair would get stuck in it, so I never was able to fully enjoy the beauty of the piece. Though I love big, dangling, wild earrings, my ears just can’t take them. Sure, I can get out the door, but anhour later and I’m hurting and have to remove them. Better to just stick to a weight that your ears can manage.
4. Stim-tastic! Even adults stim using their jewelry. Some people spin their rings, or check their wedding ring with their thumb often. Others may fiddle with their bracelets while they talk, or toy with their earrings while on the phone. I’ve seen ladies hold their necklace, such as a locket, or key, when stressed and the piece brings them comfort. Many find their jewelry soothing and some people with SPD describe feeling “naked” without their jewelry.
**Looking for something to occupy your hands or sooth your teenager or daughter in the classroom or at work, perhaps a piece of jewelry will help her stim without drawing any unwanted attention.
5. Snag proof. Make sure your belly button piercing isn’t going to get stuck in your zipper. Ouch! Perhaps a nose ring isn’t the best choice for you if you have chronic allergies. Think about wearing your hair back in a ponytail if you want to showcase your earrings. Set yourself up for sensory jewelry success.
6. Sound proof. Is your partner or one of your children sensitive to the clanking of your bracelets when you move? Sometimes it probably won’t be noticed, but other times it can feel as loud as banging pots together. It just depends on their SPD.
7. Enjoy! Jewelry is visually stimulating and can hold great sentimental value. Wearing jewelry is also a very tactile and sensory experience, so make sure it’s a good one. You control what you wear, so find pieces that compliment your sensory system.
Here are a few of my favorite chew jewelry necklaces for oral sensory input to help reduce anxiety.
And these rings are super soothing to spin and acupressure rings feel like a finger massage. How relaxing is that!?!