A: It sounds like Molly has a common, but misunderstood, sensory issue called tactile defensiveness or hypersensitivity. This is not a behavioral issue and it is not her fault!
Your daughter’s nervous system interprets information from her environment differently than you or I might. Her shirts really do feel like they are choking her. The best thing you can do is to stop fighting against it and instead work with it.
Buy her clothing that is comfortable, breathable, and loose. Go with 100% cotton instead of wool or acrylic. Get her socks with no seams and shirts with no tags. Stay away from anything with heavy embroidery, lace or metal embellishments. Look for fabric-covered waistbands and super soft, breathable materials. If you can find a comfortable pair of cotton pajamas that she likes, try letting her wear them under her street clothes.
Here are some links to places where you can find these types of clothing:
Another great way to help Molly overcome her sensory issue is to introduce her over time – and through play – to lots of different textures. This is where WeeZee can be really helpful because it has tons of areas that combine play and touch. Molly will not just have fun there, but playing there can help her sensitivity to touch.
The rice trough is a great place to start – from the way you describe her, I think Molly would love it and it could help her. My own daughter Lucy absolutely loves the rice trough; she can sometimes play there for an hour, burying and searching for things, especially if she’s with a friend.
You and Molly can also make a “tactile road” with the brushes that are velcroed on the big orange column in the big room. Line them up along the floor and invite her to walk across the different textures in bare feet. Some will feel soft and ticklish while others will be hard and scratchy; ask her how they feel and which ones she likes the best. Also, if you brought her bathing suit, let her play the warm showers and sprinklers in the water room.
Always remember to follow how Molly is feeling: if she is done with the rice in one minute and wants to move on that’s fine, or if she want to stay in the water for twenty minutes that’s fine too. The goal is to provide positive touch experiences for her. As long as it feels good, it’s good for her.