Wintertime is in full-swing, and with it, the potential for heavy snowfall. While most children are filled with excitement at the idea of a day to stay home from school on a snow day, children with autism may find the sudden break in routine difficult to handle. Here are some steps to help your child cope with the wintery shake-up in their schedule and make your child’s snow day a fun-filled adventure.
An important strategy is to do everything to prepare your child as soon as you know of the possibility of snow. Pay attention to weather forecasts and make note if the predictions call for school closures. If a full-blown snow day is expected, start talking to your child right away about the change in routine that’s to be expected. Explain that it is necessary for safety reasons and it could last more than one day. You should also go over the fun possibilities that come with snow days. You can include pictures of children playing in the snow, sledding, or staying inside and being cozy to add a visual representation of this. This conversation will likely ease your child’s nerves about the coming day.
If your child is okay with cold temperatures and doesn’t mind extra layers, head outside and play in the neighborhood. This provides some opportunities for activities that engage motor skill growth and sensory fun. Have your child explore, practice making snowballs, or join your neighbors in creating a snowman. Your child may find the texture of the snow exciting and soothing by molding it in their hands. Your child will also have opportunities to work on social interaction with other kids that are home from school.
If your child prefers to stay indoors, or if they simply get cold or tired from playing outside, prepare some fun indoor activities. To add some excitement to the occasion, prepare a special box of toys or games to be used for breaks in routine such as a snow day. Some ideas for your indoor snow day can include making a cozy fort and watching a movie, baking and decorating cookies, or making paper snowflakes.
If the roads permit it, or if walking is realistic, consider taking your child to a local recreation or community center for some physical activity. You can choose to plan a special activity for the snow day, or if your child is used to a routine at the recreation center, you can choose to stick to that to help them feel more at ease. Check with your local movie theater. Many of them offer special sensory sensitive showings from time to time.
When planning your snow day activities, keep in mind that you may need a bit of extra patience even if lots of steps are done to make the day easier. If you’ve done what you can to prepare and make the day special, just keep focusing on having fun with your child and your snow day will be a success.
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CEO/Formulator Spectrum Research Group
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