How To Reduce The Stress Of A Busy Winter For Your Child

Therapies and Resources for Children with Autism & Families

Winter time in Northeast Ohio brings with it ever-changing weather. Every day we wake up and wonder if we will see a blanket of white stuff on our front lawns.  And then we wonder if it will be enough to cause school cancellations. That means a schedule that can at times be chaotic. As we know, children with ASD love their routines, and this type of uncertainty can be very stressful. When your child wakes up and finds out that their whole day will go a little bit differently than normal, it can cause a rough start that might last all day and lead to other emotional stress.

While there is no way to predict for certain how much snow we will get (ask Dick Goddard how many times he got it wrong during his 55-year career!), we can predict with a fair amount of certainty that at least a few snow days will come.  During the winter months leading up to the end of the year, there are also many scheduled days off: winter vacation, school holiday programs and other events can really cause a schedule to be disrupted.  So, the best thing to do in order to have your child ready for the chaos of a snow day and the busy holiday season is to come up with some ABA-friendly pre-event strategies to get ready for change.

Here are some tips to get your child on the autism spectrum ready for hectic winter days:

1. Make Visual Pieces Explaining What Happens On A Snow Day.
Make some posters you can put up in their room or on the fridge that show what a snow day is.  Explain that some days school might start late, and sometimes they won’t have it at all. Explain that there might be some changes to make on their schedule and that the teachers will try their hardest to let them know as soon as possible what the adjusted day might look like.  The teacher might also like to keep a daily chart for activities in the room and let your child make schedule adjustments along with them at the onset of the day.

2. Have a Calendar That Has Events Noted On It As Early As Possible.
If you can have a nice calendar with pictures that shows when the days off are coming, it can help reduce stress.  Talking your child through the week’s schedule before it starts can help to ease anxiety.  You can’t predict a snow day, but you know that holiday vacations and programs are scheduled in advance.  Get ready for them as soon as possible.

3. Create Some Activity Boards For Choices On A Snow Day.
Your child might not be able to do some of the activities they really like if there is a foot of snow on the ground.  Make a list of fun things to do inside, or even outside, like building a snowman, if the weather permits. The empowerment of helping to make the decisions on what activities are going to be available on a chaotic day can be key to alleviating stress.

4. Enroll in a Winter Camp For the Holiday Break.
This might look like a shameless plug, but believe us when we say that keeping your child active and in a social setting while they are away from their school environment can be a great way to supplement their therapy during winter break. Our Camp Snow Cubs program is an example of a program that provides a comfortable social setting for skill development, while at the same time keeping your child involved with great activities so they don’t have idle time while away from their routine.

No matter what the weather of the winter holds, the key is still eliminating as many surprises as possible.  Predictability and familiarity breed comfort, so have your child prepared no matter the scenario.

If you are in the Cleveland and Akron area, contact Peak Potential Therapy today to get your child enrolled in Camp Snow Cubs or any of our other terrific programs for kids that need a little extra support!