Tips to Help Your Child Dress for Cold Weather
Children diagnosed with ASD often need help preparing for any big change in their lives, and that includes a change in the weather.
Here are some quick tips to help make the seasonal transition more successful:
Put the Summer Clothes Away!
Minimize the clothing options in your child’s drawers and closet. Only allow access to the clothing you want them to wear.
Be a Good Role Model!
Modeling is so important! Your child is always watching you and learning from what you do. Are you expecting your child to wear a hat, gloves and scarf? Then you need to be wearing them too!
Have Fun With It!
Try making a game out of putting on all those clothes needed to go outside. Singing a silly song can help. Use the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” as a checklist for gathering and putting on winter gear. Sing together while identifying the items you need to keep warm: head (hat); shoulders (coat); knees (snow pants); toes (boots); eyes — looking at hands (gloves); ears (earmuffs); mouth and nose (scarf).
Identify a Reward That Motivates Your Child!
Use positive reinforcement when helping your child transition to cold weather clothing. We are all motivated differently. Ideally, the reward is delivered immediately after your child puts on that dreaded piece of clothing, so they learn that “when I put my jacket on, I get my favorite toy”. Informing your child first is also helpful (“first put your jacket on, then you can watch your video”).
This may seem unnecessary if your child is already getting dressed independently, but using a visual task analysis (an ordered breakdown of each item they need to put on) can help your child transition smoothly into a new season and new articles of clothing.
Pick Your Battles!
Try not to make leaving the house in cold weather an all out struggle. Decide which clothing items are the most essential and move on. Does your child really need mittens to get out the door, or is that something you can take with you, or store in your pocket for later?
Giving your child a sense of control over what they want to wear, by providing some choices, can really help avoid frustration. Mittens or gloves? Hood or hat? Turtleneck shirt or scarf? Allowing your child to choose can result in positive results!
Keep Trying Until You Find What Works!
Every child is different and as parents, we learn what generates a positive or negative response from our child. Do your best to create routines that benefit your family. When it comes to winter clothing – experiment with fabrics, a variety of clothing sizes and styles. Your child will eventually let you know what works for them!