Monday 19 July 2021

Helping our autistic kids cope during a heatwave

Keeping our autistic kids cool - a girl holding parasol

The heat is on.. finally we have the windows open for a reason other than COVID.  We're now even allowed fans again - thank goodness!   But fans and open windows can be a bit hazardous around our autistic kids so what ideas have we got to help them cope during this hot heatwave of a week? 

Firstly, why can't we have wide open windows and use lots of fans?  Our autistic son David doesn't really understand some types of danger.  There's little difference to him in walking around the house as there is walking out a door or open window and wandering down the road.  Wandering is a serious risk for many autism families. 

Of course we try to teach him to stay home but we have safety measures too. This potential for wandering off has meant our house can seem like Fort Knox. There's far less fear of someone breaking in... far more fear of someone getting hurt if they leave the house.

We have a key operated front door (you need a key to leave the house), and the downstairs windows are fitted with restrictor safety catches. For extra security the upstairs windows have restrictor cables -  like a locked cable to stop the windows opening beyond roughly five centimetres.

Then I got a fan.  Nice idea.

But David can't really be left alone with the fan for very long either.  He loves that it spins but can get over excited by this and... well I just don't know what he could do.  He plays with the buttons and stands close enjoying the air on his face.  This is fine but he could do something daft like try and hang or climb on in and get hurt.  I wasn't even sure he couldn't hurt himself on one of the Dyson ones that don't have a spinning fan -  so no fan in the bedrooms either.

Many kids with autism also have challenges with their sensory system. Their brains are wired a bit differently and this means they interpret the world around them differently too. This can sometimes make it a bit more complicated when keeping them safe outside in the sun.

So what ideas have we got then? 
  • Chillow - is a 'chilled' pillow - like a cool sleeve that goes in your pillow case when you sleep but it can go anywhere else like for example in a cushion on the sofa.  I came across these when I was talking to mum about how hot her sleeping son was getting under a weighted blanket.
  • Cold water bottle - just take your hot water bottle and fill it with cold water instead, it'll keep anywhere a bit cooler.
  • Keep cold drinks in a thermos bottle means the water stays colder for longer.  We love our Sigg bottle, it has an easy flip and twist spout.  Dehydration is serious so try and encourage kids to drink  in the hot weather. 
  • Ice packs by any openings  - if you have that tiny gap in the window or a breeze coming through the door, drop an ice pack near it and it will help cool the air as it passes through.  Similarly an ice pack on the bedside table can cool the air immediately around it.  You might need to leave it in a bowl or on a plate to catch any condensation and we use ones filled with water so if they are broken the kids can’t accidentally eat anything toxic.
  • Sun screen that works for themSome children will enjoy smearing sun cream on, it’s part of the fun. This isn’t the case for my kids and we always need to use a mist style spray that gentle covers the skin without too much rubbing that’s 50SPF. If your kids love playing in water then you’ll want to look for a waterproof one. Water resistant sun screen will need to be reapplied so we know when the kids get wet we’ll have to re spray them.
  • Create shade -  This challenge with processing their senses, means my kids don’t like wearing some fabrics or some styles of clothing. Straps on dresses can be very uncomfortable, hats and sunglasses are not acceptable for some of my kids either. So along with looking for shade and thinking about this when we go places, we often take a little play pop-up beach tent to make shade. We also use a parasol when walking about - it might look a bit strange but I think it feels very Jane Austin.

As with many things in our life – it’s all just about working around our kids needs so they can stay safe and enjoy their summer.  If you've got any tips, please share with us!

This is not a sponsored post - anything mentioned are simply things we've used and loved or would recommend. 

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