Navigating Your Child’s Spectrum During Extreme Weather
Weather is one of the many things that can effect your child’s mood and physical comfort. Per a Canadian Psychiatric Association study, “low barometric pressure is associated with an increase in impulsive behaviors.” Which is difficult for children who already struggle with impulsivity or behavioral issues. Luckily there are lots of resources out there to get your kiddos prepped for a big storm, and managing in case of a disaster. On top of the discomfort weather can cause, extreme weather can also be very dangerous for children and adults on the spectrum. Here are a few tips and resources for navigating your spectrum during adverse weather.
I know, I know, I always start with prepping. But it is really so very important for children and adults on the spectrum to have some sort of idea about what is to come. If you know that adverse weather is on the horizon, find social stories, and videos to make sure your person knows whats to come. Sesame Street actually has some great resources for this, you can find the video here and a printable family guide here. There is also a great printable social story if you need more of a structured story, about hurricanes.
Make copies of important paperwork for your kiddos. I recommend having copies of your child’s IEP, MET, medical records and birth certificates, in case case you need to evacuate your home. Also have copies of prescriptions and at least three weeks worth of medications on hand.
Have iPads, communication devices and comfort items ready to go. If you must seek shelter outside of your home, make sure you have ear protection and other necessary items. Items such as weighted blankets, and sensory toys can help your kiddo to manage if you have to be evacuated. Remember, that massive changes can cause your child’s nervous system to go into overdrive. So make sure they have their own kit of comfort items, even if it’s just a back pack full of their items. Bring duct tape or painters tape, this way you can label your space within a shelter. Be sure to include food, water, and collar with ID tag, if you have a service animal. Pack chargers, portable DVD players with a few favorite movies, books, and anything else that will help your child to feel safe and comfortable.
If your autistic kiddo is drawn to water, or has a tendency to wander, be aware that if things get hectic they can easily get lost. Keep them safe by talking about how water is dangerous and dirty. Flood waters carry debris and can be filled with bacteria, so try to avoid them. Have a plan of action in case of an emergency. If you have more than one child make sure you ask for help, if needed. Ask a neighbor, family member, or friend for help if you need an extra set of hands keeping everyone safe.
Remember Be Kind
Safety is a major stress for all parents, but for special needs parents it can seem very overwhelming. When your kiddos faces issues with impulse control and lack of safety awareness, dangerous weather can become fatal. Remember, it’s ok to ask for help; it’s ok to be overwhelmed, and stressed. Make sure you give yourself time to pack calming things for you as well. Stress often causes us to be short, and snap easily. Take steps to manage your own stress during extreme weather. By doing this you will be better equipped to handle anything autism will throw your way!
Autism Speaks Resources & Information:
- Autism Speaks AutismCares program provides grants for individuals with autism during times of crisis and natural disasters.
- The Autism Speaks Autism Response Team takes calls from families affected by autism and natural disasters. Trained staff members (both English and Spanish speaking) are available to provide support and resources during this difficult time. Call 1-888-288-4762, en Español 888-772-9050 or email us at email@example.com
- The Autism Safety Project provides information for families and First Responders with information and guidelines for communicating with individuals with ASD in emergency situations.
- Autism Speaks Resource Guide is our national database of autism service providers. You can use the Resource Guide to find local autism service providers in your area.
Have any tips or ideas that could be helpful? Let me know in the comments!