Wednesday 2 October 2019

Helping my autistic kids as the weather gets wet

David in his raincoat

The rain was so heavy today we had mini floods on the way back from school.  Not so long ago this would have caused at least one of the kids to have a meltdown.  But it's not quite so bad now that they understand what's going on and we've got things to help them stay dry.

Some kids love splashing around in the rain and in puddles and others, like Anthony did, don't. It's all to do with how we process the feelings and sensations.  For some kids, including many with autism, processing how the rain feels is difficult and for others it's the greatest feeling in the world, to be explored again and again.  Either way, we want our kids to be able to go out when we need them to without becoming hysterical.  So here's our tips.

Find a coat that works for your kid

Obvious really, it's raining so we should put our coats on.  But not all kids coats, suit all kids.  Some kids will like the feeling of a full puffy jacket and others will want something lighter.  A raincoat can sometimes feel stiff or make loud crinkly noises that some kids won't like. If you are looking to develop independence skills, poppers may be better than zips or toggles.

Lastly, don't forget the hood. Make sure it's soft and comfortable.  Some hoods are skip like and will offer further protection from rain on sensitive faces.  Some fall down easily and this can be worrying - ones that have elastic around the hood and helps keep it up even if it's windy.

If they can't stand getting wet at all, you might want to think about a full kids rain suit to keep them dry.

Keep their feet dry

Easier said than done with kids running around and jumping in puddles, or like my lot, simply not watching where they step.

Usually our ADHD and ASD son struggles with wellington boots.  They flop around on his feet, but these ones have slip in liners that keep his feet firmly in place so he doesn't fall or tire as easily. High top boots or Anthony can even wear his high top leather converse that have a velcro strap at the top.

We can't get wellington boots on our younger son at all - he wears shoes, the same ones all the time. He feels safe in the same shoes when he goes out.  It's pretty common for autistic kids to want to wear their same shoes, even if the weather is different.

However, we can get him into comfortable bamboo socks which are breathable and wick away moisture.  They are also quick to dry if he does happen to get his feet a bit wet.

Boy in red wellington boots jumping in a park with a grey sky over head - Tip five tips for helping autistic kids in wet weather

Let them know what's going to happen

Sometimes it's less about the rain and more about understanding what's going on.  Kids with autism won't always necessarily pick up on the same social cues that others will as to what's going to happen.

A child may actually be fine going out in the rain if they know it's to go to the toy store, Grandma's house or whatever else.  Think about how you would best communicate with your child, whether PECS or otherwise, about what's going to happen, give them notice and they may be fine about going out, even in the rain.

Think about sound

Remember that crinkly coat?  And have you heard rain hammering on the path?  All these noises can be heightened if you are a child with autism or sensory processing difficulties. And it's not just the wet rain, I've seen the same thing when it's windy too.

A waterproof hat may help with this, especially if it was under a hood. Kids ear muffs or ear defenders may work for others.   Go for whatever interests you child.  Anthony wouldn't wear any until we presented him with super hero ear muffs and then it worked.  Appealing to a special interest can help.

On the go

For some, being caught off guard in the rain is a meltdown moment. Carrying a kids poncho or other light waterproof like the one with elasticated hood, can help when kids get upset by a sudden down pour.  Sometimes it's just enough to know that 'we do this' when it rains.

However, try not to surprise a child with their poncho - make sure you practice putting it on a few times and explain why it might be used before it's first outing.  That way it will be something familiar and a help, not something strange and further cause for anguish. Poncho's are great, if I've got one, it can go on which ever kid I happen to have with me.

... and finally one last suggestion..

Don't be afraid to change plans!  Although we often go places when the weather looks grey for hope that it will be a bit quieter, if the weather is really bad we'll cancel plans.  We've learned that there is no point in pushing through when we are done for the day, whatever the reason.  Best just to make sure an autistic child knows you are going before you leave, so they understand what's happening.

What tips do you have?


  1. I keep a collection of kiddie coats, wellies and overalls here in our borrow room for the farm, they are essentual in the winter for our little visitors. #KCACOLS

  2. so much that so many of us without autistic kids would never think about. thanks again for opening my eyes to the challenges #KCACOLS

  3. Great tips. It's such an inbetween time isn't it. Not cold enough for big coats. Sometimes warm. These all look #KCACOLS

  4. A big yes to calling it a day on any outing when our autistic boy has had enough. Pushing on will most likely cause misery for everyone involved. Good shoes and weatherproof jacket with hood is important too. Thanks so much for linking up with #KCACOLS, hope you come again next time! x


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