It’s about to get cold in Iowa – really, really cold.
Do you see that on Wednesday the HIGH is -6?!?!?! Welcome back, winter.
What does this have to do with autism? A whole lot, well actually – just one more challenge.
Tucker is insanely hot-blooded (his interoceptive sense struggles don’t help – Read Day #113 – The Greatest Treasure?Knowledge). As an infant his skin was always hot – he would cry, cry, cry if forced to wear too many layers.
As an elementary child coats, hats, mittens, and snow pants simply added to the heat (and anger).
He simply doesn’t feel the cold like most of us. Proof? Here’s a picture of us getting our Christmas tree this year.
The kid on the right? Tucker. We’re all in hats, mittens, pants – there he is in shorts and a zip-up sweatshirt. Yes, that’s snow on the ground. His bonus brother, Alex, (standing beside him) reached down to feel his leg to ‘prove’ he was, in fact, cold. He looked at me in astonishment, “He’s still warm! His skin is warm.” Tucker laughed, so did I. Alex hasn’t grown up with ‘Tucker hot.’ Now he knows…
So, here we are, a soon to be teenager and he refuses to wear anything but shorts. Yes, refuses. But here is the deal – once he is at school he doesn’t have to go back outside until I come to pick him up. This was a battle not worth fighting.
Shorts it is – shorts it is. I know – it’s horrible, horrible parenting but it’s just NOT worth the fight. Why?
Well – winter presents several challenges –
- extra layers that shift around
- snow pants that are not stretchy and feel tight
- gloves that require extra finger dexterity
- extra zippers, buttons, and snaps (See Day #86 – Buttons, Zippers, and Snaps – Oh My!)
- intense heat from all of the extra layers
- the extra time it takes to get everything on
- the ‘feel’ of winter clothes
- the simple frustration that comes with putting on and taking off more layers (especially in existing routines)
Shorts it is – but still, winter can be very dangerous. So how do we balance the danger of winter and overloading his sensory system? Education. We taught him about winter, we keep an extra eye on him during winter, and we provide logical back-up during the winter months.
I know it may seem extensive – but one of the first things I did this winter was show him pictures of frostbite. We researched it together and talked about what causes frostbite. He understands this – he understands the reality. He understand that if he begins to get cold – he needs to get inside and get under a blanket.
If he chooses to go outside and it’s super cold we have ‘special’ winter clothes. We’ve spent the money on clothes that are warm and thin. UnderArmour has a great cold weather line. He can wear a pair of cold weather pants underneath a regular pair of sweatpants and be fine. He had a Columbia Jacket for a couple of years that featured Omni Heat technology – it was the only coat we could keep on him. Thin enough to not cause ‘bulky’ issues, yet warm.
The last thing we do is carry back-up clothes. We had a short conversation of ‘what-if’s’ that revolved around going in the ditch or getting into a fender bender during winter months. So – the logical thing to do? Keep an extra bag of clothes in our vehicle – that way we’re always safe (and warm).
For more information (and ideas) about winter and autism, check out this link: http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2014/12/12/autism-cold-weather-dangers-teen-needs-help-transitioning-winter