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Autism & Cold Weather Dangers: Teen Needs Help Transitioning to Winter

Every year, cold weather brings two big challenges for our teen, who has autism: the transition to heavier clothes and understanding the danger of cold weather. When he sees snow, he wants to run outside. Advice?

Editor's note: The following information is not meant to diagnose or treat and should not take the place of personal consultation, as appropriate, with a qualified healthcare professional and/or behavioral therapist.

The cold weather sure came on quickly in many parts of the country this year. This can intensify the challenges you describe - challenges shared by many families affected by autism.

So let’s start with your first question. The seasonal change to heavier clothing commonly poses difficulties for those who have sensory sensitivities. Your son may prefer the lighter touch of summer clothing. So it may help to start with putting that summer clothing away and out of sight. If your son asks where it has gone, consider simply stating, “It’s not available until the weather is warm again.”

Selecting some motivators

Next, we want to help your son put on that coat and keep it on. Let's start by identifying a reward to help motivate him. Given the time of year, perhaps he's really into Christmas cartoons, or maybe candy canes. You can provide these rewards for each small success, or use a token or sticker board to earn "points" toward a reward. You know your son best. Use that understanding to gauge how much or little of the reinforcement you need to keep him motivated.

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To finish reading the full story, visit the Autism Speaks website:

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