- 24January 2019
If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, dealing with seasonal changes can be quite challenging for them. Depending on where they are on the spectrum, the numerous changes to daily activities and dressing that come with the change of season can range from frustrating to downright disorienting.
Children on the spectrum can also sometimes suffer from hypersensitivity to weather, complicating things even further.
Why Should One Be Concerned
As a parent, one of the reasons why all of this is a cause for concern is because children diagnosed with ASD may misunderstand what the prevailing weather requires. They risk illness or harm through exposure to the elements. Pneumonia and sunburn, for instance, are both examples of complications that may arise through exposure to cold and hot weather respectively.
The question is; what do you do about this? How can we help our children deal with and navigate seasonal changes?
Here are some ways you can help make dealing with seasonal changes easier for your children if they’ve been diagnosed with ASD.
Don’t Stress Them Out
The first thing to remember is that the changing weather and what it requires is already stressful for your children. Don’t add to it. If you need them to change into different clothes, be gentle about it. Give them the time they need to navigate the switch between their usual gear and whatever they have to switch into for the season.
Clock in a little extra changing time before school or appointments so that you don’t need to rush them.
Prioritize Comfort and Ease of Wear
Make sure whatever clothes you need them to change into are both comfortable and easy to wear. If you need them to wear jackets, look for ones with simple zipping or shutting mechanisms. Shirts, shorts, and t-shirts should be made of softer materials. It helps to avoid clothes with too many tags or bits that could irritate their skin.
The more comfortable and easy to wear the clothes are, the simpler the transition will be for your children.
Offer them Choice
Remember, it’s important for children on the spectrum to know that they have agency. As opposed to handing them things to wear, offer them a choice. It helps to come up with age appropriate options, allowing your children to make the final pick.
Buy a Sensory Brush
As some of you might know, autism involves what’s described as sensory overload; it’s essentially difficulty in processing sensory information. This extends to the child or individual’s sense of touch, which is why children on the spectrum are extremely physically hypersensitive.
The process of putting on clothes with long sleeves or long pants, for instance, can actually be quite jarring and uncomfortable. If your child does suffer from such discomfort, sensory brushing is something that’s highly recommended prior to warm dressing.
Talk to Them
Verbally explain to your children why it is important for them to dress appropriately and be mindful of the weather. Explain how the wrong kind of exposure to the cold, heat, or wetness can make them extremely sick and how that can sometimes even be quite painful.
It helps to logically highlight the connection between cause and effect to them.
Apart from this, ask them how they’re feeling, get a sense of where they are at and trust what they tell you. Communication goes both ways.
Back it Up Nutritionally
Due to the sometimes limited diet of ASD children, months like the winters as well as autumn and spring when the weather is changing can leave them exposed to seasonal infections. To keep them from getting ill, it helps to add the right vitamin and mineral supplements to their daily diet.
Prevention is always better than looking for a cure!
In following the steps above, you can help your child navigate seasonal changes and what comes with them a lot better. If you’re a parent or professional looking for more information on autism and working with the same, our online network Orange County New York for Autism is dedicated to offering resources, information, and support relating to ASD to people in Orange County and surrounding areas.