As the days and nights become increasingly warmer your sensitive child on the autism spectrum may require a little help in coping with the sensory issues that summer may bring.
So here’s a few tips aimed at those parents of the sensitive child! After all everyone deserves to have a great summer don’t they!
1) Does your child show a dislike to most sun protection products? Little man doesn’t enjoy the application of sunscreen and will spend half the day refusing to comply with my request to apply it. The dislike of sunscreen by a child on the spectrum could be due to a number of factors all of which are a result of the child’s senses. Little man hates the feeling of the lotion on the skin (protests that all feel sticky). This is as well as the smell of the lotion and the fact he needs help with the application process. Here’s some suggestions…
A – Try a powder protection like the one from bare essentials its odourless too.
B – Let your child learn to apply the sun lotion themselves using a mirror then try to cover hard to reach areas that will be exposed to the sun with clothing (thin and cool material)
C – Experiment with different brands of sun protection. Many have different smells and textures and most brands offer sample size bottles or sachets.
2) Try to organise outdoor activities around the midday sun. Children with autism who are sensitive to the suns rays will thank you for it.
3) Use a good insect repellent! No one likes getting bitten by insects and its a 1000 times worse for the child who is tactile defensive. Clothing that comes into contact with the skin is already an issue for these children but if clothing rubs causing friction to an insect bite things become intensely over sensitive. Then there’s the issue of infection to bite. Little man doesn’t listen if I tell him not to scratch a bite, he really can’t control the need to do so, having no power to resist. Your best bet is to just be safe and avoid insect bites altogether. As before experiment in till you find the right product for your child. Another good tip is to use fly nets at the windows or an air conditioning unit at night.
4) Cover up with a hat! As you should for all children insist your child on the spectrum wears some form of sun hat. Your child will be more comfortable in the sun and this will reduce the risk of sunstroke and little mans most feared pain… The headache! If your sensitive child refuses to wear a hat then try alternatives such as a sun umbrella and whenever possible, staying indoors during the hottest point of the day (the midday sun).
5) Does your child with Autism have a fear of flying insects? It isn’t a trait as such, but not uncommon for children with autism to have such a fear. Sometimes its due to factors such as the noise these insects make… Noises such a buzzing from bees, flys and wasps. It can also be down to a fear of getting bitten or stung due to it happening perhaps one day in the past. Regardless of the reason, its usually an intense fear, one that children on the autism spectrum will struggle to deal with. Its all too easy to hide away from those things we are scared of! However this only makes things more difficult in the long run as one day them fearful critters will sneak up on us. My tip… That its better to deal with fear head on by facing it! This can be made much harder when the child who is scared of such insects has a type of autism. But it can be done! It normally just takes a little longer. Ideas…
A) Let children learn more about the things they are frighten about. Use the Internet with them to unravel exciting facts.
B) During warm months use Mosquito nets at windows.
C) Be persistent when helping your child face their fears. Keep on trying on a daily basis.
D) If extreme (to the point your child wont leave the house) then speak to child practitioner for information, advice and ideas.
6) Use a thin 100% cotton sheet instead of a duvet at night! If your child is already a poor sleeper the heat could potentially make this issue worse. Try offering your child lighter cooler bedding. In the summer months little man will often use a sheet instead of a duvet. As long as its 100% cotton we don’t have any tactile issues.
7) Whether appropriate clothing! I found that during the colder months I have to fight the little man to wear his coat, yet in the summer he refuses to go out without it. Experiment with different coats that are appropriate for the current climate. If your child insists on wearing a coat in summer then give them thin cotton summer jackets. Be sure to make sure the material is suited to your child’s tactile needs (little man will not wear waterproof material)!
8) Head to the beach! Being by the sea is always much cooler with the sea breeze. Little man always seems so much happier when we are spending time at the coast. We try to visit less crowded beaches to keep his stress levels down.
9) Avoid the shops! If like little man you’re child on the autism spectrum hates shopping at the best of times then avoid shopping trips during them hot summers afternoons. This is a recipe for meltdowns… You’ve been warned.
10) Cool down! I’ve found that by giving little man a battery operated hand fan he manages the summer heat much better. We did try using cool mist but spraying this on the little man’s face didn’t go down to well. See what works best for your child but if you do opt for a battery operated fan then be sure batteries are fully charged and maybe keep a spare set in your handbag just in case.
Well that’s about it for now. Hope these small tips help and if you have any of your own, then please share in the comments section. Thanks.x