I was feeling very frustrated with the whole thing until a visit to a friend's house changed my perspective. One of M.'s friends has the best dress up clothes. Princess dresses, leotards, tutu's, veils, fringe, boas--you name it. M. desperately wanted to wear them. She kept trying them on, bursting into tears because they "bugged her", and asking me to help get them off. Once she calmed down, she would try on the same dress again because "maybe it wouldn't bug" her this time and go through the whole process again. After giving up on one dress up, she would then go through the entire process with a different dress. This was perhaps the first time I realized how uncomfortable clothing must feel to her. She REALLY wanted to participate in dressing up but her super sensors wouldn't let her. And this was also the first time an outsider got a glimpse of what getting M. dressed really was liked and her sympathy was very validating, but that is another story.
All of this brings me to the book The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine N. Aron. I figured that if a book about spirited children had some great ideas, a book directly about sensitive children would be even better. I was wrong.
As for M. she is doing much better. We have our bad days. Just this morning, we tried on 5 pair of socks before I decided it would be okay for her to wear her shoes without socks. But overall she is doing MUCH better. In fact, last weekend we went back to her friends house and she wore all the dress up options and she only started crying once. Apparently the sleeves slipping down bugged her but once she calmed down she suggested the solution of using a twist tie to hold them up. Now that is progress.