Health Education

How Autism Affects Kids in Winter: Introducing Them to a New Routine

How Autism Affects Kids in Winter: Introducing Them to a New Routine

If you’re the parent of a child with autism, there is one word in your vocabulary that stands out from all the others: routines. Kids with autism create routines to help navigate through various situations they find themselves in. As you’re probably well aware, abiding by these rituals is paramount for autistic children and they are likely to show their irritation if you try to stop them.

The Challenge of Winter

Most people don’t look forward to the onset of winter. It means getting out the warm clothes, wearing lots of layers, starting the car and letting it sit for a while, etc.

For those of us who are parenting children with autism, though, a whole new challenge emerges. Just because autism and routines go hand-in-hand doesn’t always mean they do so amicably.

All of a sudden, your son or daughter has to wear bulky clothes. Now they can’t go play outside as much as they used to. Maybe some of their favorite outdoor activities are no longer possible.

Keep in mind that winter can be especially dangerous for those with autism too, so you really need to prioritize helping them transition.

How to Help Your Autistic Child Adjust to Winter

You’re not alone when it comes to managing your child’s autism symptoms in light of winter. Other parents have successfully used these three tips:

· Use motivators to help your child adjust to their new routines. You can even modify motivators you typically use to make them match the season (e.g. candy canes or Christmas cookies instead of their favorite treats).

· If your child doesn’t like wearing his or her coat or other bulky clothes, start small. See if he/she can wear it for five minutes or even just five seconds. Should that prove too daunting, see if he/she’ll put on a sleeve for a few seconds to begin with.

· Introduce step-by-step instructions with pictures. Like motivators, your child may already have a version of this, so now you just need to introduce one for winter.

Make sure your child gets outdoors too. Unless the temperatures are dangerously cold, this will help a lot. Of course, safety is still paramount. You can also use some of our indoor activity tips to help them blow off steam when it’s too cold to go outside.

Winter is tough for all of us, but especially so for children with autism. If you notice the above tips aren’t helping enough, please feel free to contact our team at Woodburn Pediatrics as well.