For many children, playing in the snow is an exciting and joyous experience. However, for children with autism, the snow can cause sensory overload.
Preparing your child for their first time playing in the snow can help make the experience more enjoyable, so you can build fun wintertime memories together. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Children with autism need ample preparation before trying something new or different. Play is an important part of any child’s development, and according to ABA Therapy Center Florida, the first time doing any outdoor activity should be fun and an experience for your child.
Before heading outside, take some time to plan out the experience. Talk to your child about what they can expect to see and feel when they are outside in the snow. You can show them pictures or videos of people playing in the snow or even take them to a store where they can see and touch snow gear like hats, gloves, and jackets.
Practice With Sensory Activities
Sensory concerns are common among children on the autism spectrum. Creating an engaging sensory experience before heading outside will help your child prepare for the experience.
Put together a sensory bin with a few toys and some snow from outside. This creates a controlled environment for your child to interact with the snow without the overwhelm of feeling surrounded. Play with them and talk about how the snow feels and what fun things you can do with it.
When dressing your child for playing in the snow, it’s important to make sure they are warm and comfortable. Finding the right gear that won’t cause discomfort is a must for kids with sensory challenges.
Start with a base layer made from a soft, non-itchy material like cotton. Layering is key, so add a warm and breathable mid-layer made from wool or fleece. Finally, add a waterproof and wind-resistant outer layer, like a ski jacket, to protect them from the elements. Don’t forget gloves, a hat, and waterproof boots to keep their feet dry and warm.
Bring Comfort Items
If your child has a comfort item, like a favorite toy or blanket, make sure to bring it with you. This can help your child feel more secure and comfortable while they are outside. Additionally, bring along any items that can help with sensory issues, like noise-canceling headphones or sunglasses to help with bright reflections.
Playing outside in the snow can be exhilarating — and exhausting. Read your child’s signals to determine if they’re getting overstimulated or need to head indoors.
Take frequent breaks and opportunities to warm up. Don’t hesitate to use this as an excuse to enjoy some hot cocoa!
Preparing your child with autism for their first time playing in the snow requires a bit of planning, patience, and understanding. With a little bit of planning and exploration, your child can have a fun time getting fresh air and physical activity during the winter months.