Category: Autism (page 1 of 10)

Silly Season Survival Tips

Christmas is a crazy time of year for anyone, autistic or not. When you add in sensory and social overload for autistic peeps – it can be hugely stressful and challenging. The noise, the fuss, the crowds, the hype – it can be a recipe for disaster!

the girltribe + 1 on a recent city trip

Over the years we have kinda fine-tuned the girls coping strategies for this time of year so I thought I’d share them here so others can benefit from them, too. Just simple things that work for us and help to make the long Christmas holidays a bit more bearable.

  1. Take one or two down-days for every up-day.
    Social outings and events can be exhausting for autistic peeps – crowds during Christmastime even more so. So for every single day that is an “up” day – meaning when you and your child are out and about and being around other people – allow a day or two at home, for a “down” day.  On down days, allow your autistic child to do whatever they want that feels good and give them plenty of space to retreat and recover however they need.
  2. Pack a sensory toolkit for days when you’re not at home.
    On the days where you have family events to attend or are having days out, pack a sensory toolkit for your child. Make it a habit for your child to bring this toolkit with them whenever you’re planning on being out of the house for more than an hour. In Sno’s toolkit (which is just a messenger style bag) she packs: water bottle, noise-cancelling headphones, her phone with podcasts loaded onto it and music, a fidget toy, a piece of velvet, lip-balm, an essential-oil roller ball bottle filled with her favourite smell, a few books, her glasses, some xylitol chewing gum, pen and paper and a word search book. This stuff enables her to take down-time when we are out and when we are travelling so she can effectively self-regulate, which brings me to..
  3. Keep sensory tools in the car.
    In our car there are always a few fidget toys, cold water that we bring on the day and a puzzle book. Wilding (6) also brings along her iPod and headphones into the car because we all find when she’s listening to her own music she’s less likely to verbally stim and send us all bonkers!
  4. Decline invitations or leave early.
    It’s important to remember you don’t need to attend every single event you’re invited to. If your child is exhausted and struggling, it’s perfectly acceptable to say no to attending and if you do attend, remember – you can leave whenever you want. We like to arrive early before the whole family crowd arrives and then we often leave early too, before the girls get to the completely-over-it stage.
  5. Communicate effectively.
    This is in regards to communicating with family members to explain how Christmas affects the autistic peeps within your life, and also in regards to communicating with your autistic peeps. We have a calendar in our house in a commonly used area and on the calendar I write what is happening that week – always allowing for Tuesdays and Thursdays at home wherever possible. Sno, Wilding and Beans (and Rara!) all enjoy knowing what is happening when each week. This reduces anxiety a great deal.

Remember to take time to do things you all enjoy, and take regular time-out wherever possible, too. Self-care may sound cliched but it is so so important to avoid burn-out. Blessings. x




A letter for Kindergarten

Beans is 3.5 and she begins kindergarten next year. A thing I have done for all my autistic girls in the past is put together a letter about them for the teachers to give to the parents of the children who will be attending kindy alongside Beans. It helps have everyone on the same page with regards to my daughters who have special needs and in my experience, encourages inclusion, compassion and understanding. It also saves me from having to repeat myself too.

I thought I’d share the letter below that I did for Beans.  This letter is completely opposite to the one I wrote for Wilding – isn’t autism amazing like that?!


Hello there,

My name is Beans. I will be attending kindy next year. I’ll be 4 in May and I have three big older sisters.

I wanted to write to you and tell you a bit about me, so that kindy can be a really great experience for us all.

I’m autistic. That means I think, feel and process my environment differently and in my own way compared to other kids. 

Meeting new people can be a really overwhelming and difficult experience for me. This may mean sometimes I cry or have a shutdown where I don’t talk. Other days I may look like I’m not happy to see you or be at kindy, but that isn’t really true. I do want to be here, I’m just adjusting to my environment and that can take a while. 

Kids can be really loud and busy and lots of kids can often be a lot for me to take in. I’m sensitive to noise and crowds and I struggle with transitions. 

I have my very own quiet space at kindy, and my own teacher aide to help me. If I am having a hard morning, the best thing for you to do is say hello to me quietly and then give me some space. Please don’t crowd me or touch me without my permission, that just upsets me more. I promise I will come out and hang out with you if and when I am ready.

When I’m anxious, I find it hard to talk. So I might wave instead, or not at all.. When I am comfortable and happy, it’s hard to get me to stop talking! I also jump on the spot like a little bunny rabbit when I am happy.

I really love puppies, playing in the water, imaginary play and dancing. I also really love hugs and cuddles when I am ready for them.

I’m really looking forward to coming to kindy and I will see you soon.
Feel free to ask my Mama Jessica anything, autism is a big part of our lives (my Daddy is autistic and so are 2 of my 3 sisters) and we are totally open about our lives.

Love, Beans.

Please feel free to use a similar version of your own if you feel it applies to your child or may help.


What IS working for us

At the end of a very tumultuous term 2 this year where Sno was experiencing major anxiety and a huge amount of traumatic meltdowns, we decided as a collective tribe to give Sno the term off mainstream schooling. We homeschooled her for term 3 and had a much happier chilled out child, but it wasn’t working on all levels. There was still anxiety, there was still issues – they were just manifesting in different forms. Sno kept telling me she missed her friends and so when I raised the idea of going back, she was positive and receptive – and a little apprehensive, understandably. We needed that time however to discover a few things that we could implement into a school environment, and I think we needed that time for some major self-discovery for everyone in our family – but Sno especially.

“Turns out, autism is just tricky no matter where it learns,” she said to me one morning. Yep.

She’s been back at school for six weeks now and things are going really well. Far better than term 1 & 2 and even better than term 3.

I thought I’d share some of the supports and changes we have put into place that have been contributing to the successes.

  1. A four day week.
    This has probably been the greatest change we have made. Sno attends school on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays off are spent at home, no outings – no expectations. Just chilling at home. She does not do schoolwork on this day unless it is self-driven. Because Sno only had 2 days at a time to get through, she’s far less overwhelmed. Our school required us to have a supporting letter from Sno’s psychologist to process this flexible arrangement.
  2. Learning about Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) and implementing strategies.
    Although it is not formally recognised in Australia (although it is in the U.K.), when our incredible psychologist told us about this and how he believed Sno to fit many of the criteria – I wanted to learn about it as much as possible. In a nutshell – children with PDA refuse things/requests/demands as a means of regaining control when they are feeling awash with anxiety. Once the demands are lessened, so is the anxiety. I have found these resources to be the most helpful, and this book which I inhaled and then passed onto the teachers and beloved Grandparents, too.
  3. Non-verbal communication pathways.
    One of the things that Sno struggles with the most is communicating her wants/needs/worries when she is feeling anxious. For her tenth birthday she received from us her own phone to aide in communication and organisation (using the Calendar and WhatsApp, mostly) and it’s been fabulous. Sno finds using technology to communicate when she’s anxious to be far easier than having to draw attention to herself. Verbal communication embodies far more elements: deciphering body language, facial expressions, working out a good time to talk, drawing attention to herself and articulating emotions. With text on a computer or phone – it’s just black and white, direct and to the point. Sno has been using her laptop that she got given from the Variety Charity to email her teachers and psychologist regularly, too. The other night I was out at my Barre class and I was able to help her through coping mechanisms via text when she was experiencing a panic attack whilst my husband was putting one of our other daughters to bed. Technology has been a life-line for us. When she’s come home and had a rough day she immediately emails her teacher or case worker to let them know. This enables her to have the worry “off her chest” and dealt with immediately, so it doesn’t linger and cause more anxiety.

There have also been other things that have been helping, too.  Things like;

  • Spending the last 20 minutes of every school day in a quiet space in the SEU (special education unit).
  • Using her noise-cancelling headphones during class time (especially music) and assembly.
  • Being given permission to leave class at any point without having to ask when she’s feeling anxious.
  • Beginning each day in the SEU away from the noisy morning banter of the other children.
  • Using a wobble stool in class to provide sensory input and a fidget cube, too.
  • Visiting a Biomedical General Practitioner for supplements to help with anxiety and sleep.
  • Getting glasses with a converged lens from a Behavioural Optometrist.
  • Regular time booked in for Sno with the school’s youth worker to chat and debrief.

Phew! I hope some of these insights are helpful for others in similar situations. I feel confident that things will continue to improve and I am so so so incredibly proud of the amazing achievements and hurdles Sno continues to overcome. I’m also super thankful for the amount of effort all the support people in Sno’s life have been going to for her, because they believe in her. (For the record, I have asked Sno if she’s okay with me sharing this post and she’s actually read over it and approves because she wants to help other kids, too. )




Fussy eating; look a little deeper.

Despite being a major extrovert and not having many struggles socially, when Wilding gets anxious or overloaded the first thing that gets affected is her eating – or lack thereof, swiftly followed by her sleep. Her sensory preferences with regards to food increase and so does her need for control around food and eating. Overall, refusal increases. Knowing this, we have been doing mealtimes a bit differently lately and it’s been making  a huge difference because she is actually eating!

So here’s what we do:

Be flexible with how you think meal times “should” look.

Wilding eats dinner fairly early. If she hasn’t finished her lunch at school (which happens when she’s anxious, exacerbated by noise or other people eating near her) she will eat it in the car on the way home whilst listening to her iPod with headphones on. When she’s ready for more food – she will climb onto the kitchen bench, and eat it there with me in the kitchen. While we chat, she eats.

To be honest  – I don’t actually care what time “dinner” is, all I care is that she’s eating. So I have learned to relax my own ideals and really just follow her lead. I don’t try and force her to fit a mould of society’s acceptability and instead I prepare myself to approach things from different angles to find what works for my kid.

Some days she eats dinner outside whilst scooting. Some days she prefers to sit down on a towel on the kitchen floor. And if she’s finished her food first on the rare days she eats with others, I don’t mind if she asks to leave the table early and I definitely don’t force her to stay seated.

As far as learning table manners and stuff goes – that is a separate issue, and can be taught at other times, too. Wilding knows feet don’t belong on the table and to use polite language. Meal times don’t have to be in one type of format only.

And this flexible stance on eating is working. In the kitchen on the bench, there’s minimal pressure, being on the bench also reduces the noise from others affecting her and she doesn’t need to watch other people eat or hear them eating – two things which she has minimal tolerance for on tough days.

Eating is a huge sensory activity: there is smell, touch, taste, texture and even sound involved. When a child refuses to eat it’s important to look at the entire picture, not just the food they are being served. I know for Wilding once I did this I was more aware of the possible triggers adding to her food refusal and so once I was able to eliminate those, funny thing – she ate!

Give some control.

When a child is feeling anxious it’s normal that they’ll try and assert control in other situations to compensate. They are feeling out of their depth so they grasp for anchors. During this time, it’s helpful to give the child a say. At dinner time I ask Wilding what plate/bowl she would like, how she would prefer the food to be presented (in a divided plate/separate bowl/in a mug) and how much she would like. She’s way more likely to eat food that she’s had a say in, after all – wouldn’t we all? I know I don’t eat food I don’t like, so it’s unrealistic to expect children too, either – especially autistic ones.

When it comes to introducing new foods, I find it helpful to do it in small steps. I definitely don’t place new food in front of Wilding unannounced and expect her to eat it. I always keep a range of “safe” foods available and accessible to her, which she can choose to eat instead. I might place something new in a learning bowl beside her main food, and encourage her to sniff it, touch it and even look at it. If she tries it and doesn’t like it, I consider it a big win if she will tolerate it being in a bowl near to her. As her tolerance grows, she may even try it again but there’s no pressure.

Finally, a brief note on the Learning Bowl. This is a bowl where new food can be placed into, or it can remain empty but where food that isn’t liked or tolerated can be placed in. The benefit to having a Learning Bowl is that it eliminates the need for the child to fling food they don’t like across the table, and it also slowly and gently encourages tolerance for foods they are still learning about. The new food is kept separate from their safe food, and so it is way more manageable than dumping it all together.

When your child is being picky around food, take a step back and look for the why. Be prepared to do things in a different way than usual.

I think that’s the thing I love about autism the most. Out of the six of us in my direct family – four peeps are autistic. So every day, I am forced to see things from different perspectives. And I love that there are always more than one (or three!) ways of doing things. Embrace your child’s uniqueness, and look a little deeper. You’ll find ways to connect and you’ll get to the bottom of why they aren’t eating, I promise.  And they will absolutely love you for it.



Why we NEED to talk about autism with our kids.

Over the past few weeks it’s kind of only just occurred to me that there are some individuals out there who actively choose not to disclose their child’s autism diagnosis with them.

When I say it’s “only just” occurred to me, I’m being serious. Because I actually cannot believe that a parent in their right mind would not tell their child such an important piece of information.

I’ve heard some parents insinuate that they don’t want to “burden” their child with a label or “make” their child feel different to everyone else.

And to those parents out there, I have some hard truths for you to hear:

Number one: Your child more than likely already knows that they’re different.
Children are not stupid. They are innately intelligent, and they can tell when others react differently to them, or when they react differently to others their age. They can see when they struggle with things other kids don’t. They more than likely already know that they aren’t like their peers. And they are probably wondering why.

Number two: This is your issue, not your child’s.
Being autistic is not some huge deficit. It isn’t a flaw or something to be ashamed of. It doesn’t make anyone any less than anyone else. It just is. It’s a different way of thinking, feeling and seeing the world. And different is not wrong. So chances are, if you tell me you’re hiding your child’s diagnosis from them because you are worried for them – I don’t believe you. Because you are projecting your own issues about difference onto your child. It is your stuff, not theirs. Children are innately resilient, loving and accepting of difference.

And finally, number three: When you choose to withhold something like an autistic diagnosis from your child, what you are actually doing is withholding a large portion of their identity.
Autism isn’t something you can take on and off. It’s not a hat or a piece of clothing that you can choose to wear. It is all-encompassing and covers every single element of the life of the autistic individual. By not telling your child about their diagnosis you are directly impacting their ability to understand their own triggers and reasons for the way they feel, see and do the things they do. And a child has every right to know those pieces of information. They form their identity, and they solidify and concrete the way they fit in and view their world. It is not your right to fail to disclose such a thing.

You can tell me I’m wrong, and you can tell me you know better. But I will tell you that I am married to an incredible man who didn’t realise he was autistic until he was 30 years old. And it wasn’t because his wonderful mother didn’t tell him, either – she didn’t know. And I know if she did know, she would have told him.  But if my husband did know, he would have had far less self-esteem issues and far less struggle with working out his place in the world. He would have accepted himself more, loved himself more and felt more confident as a contributing and worthwhile wholly-fantastic member of society.

Autism isn’t something to be afraid of. Ignorance is, it is toxic and debilitating. And if you deliberately choose to not be open with your child about why they are the way they are, you are directly contributing to that cycle. Your child deserves to know, their identity depends on it. Don’t perpetuate the fear of being different. Embrace it.

If you want to find out about how I told Sno she was autistic, read this post,

NOT Your Usual Sensory Shop.

A while ago I was contacted by Bri from Way of The Cactus, asking me if I would be willing to trial and review some of the awesome, eco-inspired sensory products her company stocks. As it happens, I’d actually seen the products before in my online travels and was already interested in them – so of course I snapped her up on the offer. Anyone who knows me well will know that I really can’t stand mass-produced short-lived plastic junk and try to avoid buying it where possible (with Lego and Magnatiles being the exceptions). I’m way more of a fan of quality versus quantity, and I have to say that Way of The Cactus completely tick all the boxes here.

*I will say that the review below is my opinion only and even though the products were supplied to me – my review is honest and completely my own.*

So, anyway.

Way of The Cactus is a business run by two families in Brisbane, comprising of an Occupational Therapist, artist, social worker and academic. They are also all autistic and between the founders Leif, Leia, Julies and Bri – a wide range of neurodivergence is encountered including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety and depression. This really appealed to me because I believe that the people who know the most about autism and sensory needs are in fact the autistic members of the community.

The company was started because the founders were spending a lot of their time searching for sensory products that not only looked beautiful and were effective, but were ethically and sustainably made. And so when Way of The Cactus found their beautiful items, they wanted to share it with others with similar values.I can really relate to this because being a mother of autistic children who have a wide range of sensory needs – I kinda get sick of chucking out plastic crap that only serves their purpose for a little while before it breaks. I hated that I was adding to landfill after each and every time something was broken. And despite not being autistic myself I can really appreciate how much nicer handcrafted items feel compared to their cheaper, tackier counterparts. Honestly, there was no comparison.

I was sent four items; and they didn’t disappoint.

First up, the Rubble Lariat is a gorgeous, unique item of jewellery that feels good and looks good on.  I love that it can be altered in the way it looks depending on how it is tied or arranged. I’m actually eyeing off a pair of the earrings from the producer of them now, too. Beautiful, beautiful jewellery.


Sno absolutely adores the Comfort Egg and pilfered it right out of my hands when the package arrived, claiming it has her own. It fits comfortably inside the palm of her hand and she finds it really relaxing to turn it over in her hand, and also loves to rub the soft wood against her skin. She says it smells good, too. It now lives inside her handbag along with her noise-cancelling headphones, phone and essential oil – this is what a sensory kit looks like for my 10.5 year old. She loves that it is small and unassuming.


Papagirltribe was sent an Organic Crew tee. He’s worn it at least three times a week since it arrived, so safe to say he approves. It is soft, non-clingy and he says he likes the unusual design on the tee. I have to say I think it looks funky!

Wilding pilfered the Gum Nut Spinning Top and although it’s hard to get an action shot of it, I can say that once she started spinning it she didn’t stop for a while! Watching it spin was clearly soothing and relaxing, and it is hardy – I know it isn’t going to smash within a short space of use.

Now, onto the good news for you – my readers. Way of The Cactus has kindly offered GirlTribe readers a 15% off discount code through the month of August and September. Simply enter in the code “GirlTribe15” in the discount section of your cart at checkout to redeem it. They ship worldwide and offer free post on orders over $99.00. Please get behind this awesome company and give them your support if you are after beautiful, sustainable sensory items that will last a long time.

Happy shopping!

Why We Took A Break From Therapy.

It’s been an interesting journey parenting four daughters, three of whom are on the spectrum. Starting with the major onset delay in accessing support for Sno due to her later diagnosis, then positive regular OT sessions for Wilding in our home environment and now therapy with Beans.. we have definitely approached therapy differently for each daughter.



Over the years it has become clear to me that, like with most things in life, there really is no one size fits all when it comes to the effectiveness or purpose behind accessing therapy for autistic children.

Maybe it was that Beans is my fourth child, third autistic daughter and I have my head fully grasping her needs myself without having to pay a professional to tell me what she needs or what her strengths or weaknesses are. Maybe it’s just that my view of the point of therapy has changed. Maybe it’s both. But Beans was diagnosed last year and over the last 8 months she’s only been to a few sessions of Occupational Therapy, and here’s my two main reasons why:

  • Therapy appointments can actually be counter productive.  Waiting rooms are no place to spend a childhood and being shuttled back and forth to appointments is draining and tiresome.. for everyone involved.  It’s also pretty full-on for autistic children to get to know and trust strangers and be their true selves around them. This is something that takes time and can be pretty confronting. And most importantly;
  • Many therapy models try and alter a child to suit society’s expectations or interpretations of “normal” and “acceptable” and over the years I guess.. I’m just not sure whether I give a shit about my kids fitting into the few limited moulds on offer. The truth is, there is no “right” way to behave and my girls have really taught me, and continue to teach me – that they dance to the rhythm of their very own tune, and that’s okay. It’s more than okay in fact, it’s awesome, it’s brave, it’s beautiful and it’s something I want to encourage – not stifle or change. Having the courage to be who you are in a society hell-bent on insisting everyone buckle under pressure and confirm is an incredibly admirable thing.

So whilst I do believe some types of therapy and some situations are warranted and very helpful, I’m just not sure it all is. Not all therapists are the same, either. I have found it helpful to get sensory profiles done for my girls so I can address and understand their sensory needs and provide them with the types of input they like, but once I have that – I do all the ongoing support at home. Our house is basically equipped like an OT’s office, it’s pretty amusing. Therapy in the form of psychology also is very useful in terms of teaching my older autistic girls how to handle their emotions and live with their anxiety, encouraging them ultimately to learn to independently self-regulate by understanding and being aware of their triggers, too.



But Beans and I have taken a break. And so we continue to work on core-strengthening at home for her hypo mobility and low-tone, we go to the beach for sensory play, we climb trees, we incorporate fine motor and gross motor strengthening fluidly into our every day doings in channels she enjoys. There is no force, there is no push to conform, there is no rewards or bribery.

In finding our flow, my girls are free to be who they are, embraced for their quirky ways and encouraged to be fully and wonderfully their true selves.


A tool to ease separation angst..

Wilding has often struggled with transitions. What I mean by this is; stopping one activity and beginning another, getting dropped off to places and going somewhere new. Tonight I’m sharing an idea that we have come up with that I believe will help a lot with these struggles in such a simple way.

At a few months off age six, Wilding is a really social little sprite, she loves people and making friends so staying behind or not going out has not really been an option that she’d choose. She loves school, her friends and her grandparents but has always found the “leaving” part to be tricky. One of the best tools for situations like these that we have found,  has been to give her a little laminated photo of Cj and I. Because she’s such a visual little creature, having a photo of us with her offered her immense comfort. At kindergarten the photo would live in her special box and at school so far it has lived in her tidy tray.

However, it can be hard because there have been situations where she has needed a little extra comfort and visual reassurance but it wasn’t there. Sometimes she’d request to have items of clothing of ours with her, or jewellery pieces – which is fine.

But today we came up with an awesome tool that can be with her whenever she needs. We bought her a little silver locket of her own. Inside we placed two tiny photos of Cj and I that we has printed off.

This means Wilding now has us with her wherever she is. Anytime she is not with us and gets pangs of anxiety or misses us, she can look at the photos of us from the locket that hangs around her neck and be comforted. I especially hope this will help her at night-time with her sleeping, too.

We gave her the locket this afternoon and she’s positively beaming now.  It really is the little things sometimes.

It’s Time For An Inclusive Autistic Diagnosis Criteria.

You know, I really wish there wasn’t such a thing as “male” or “female” autistic traits. Why can’t they just be called “autistic traits”?

Let me explain.

If there wasn’t such a gender division within the autism diagnostic criteria, my husband wouldn’t have had to wait until the age of 30 before he received his diagnosis. And my six year old daughter, now ten years of age – wouldn’t have had to wait until she was six to get hers.


Because my husband, the incredible man that he is – presents with many “female” autistic traits. But last I checked (which was this morning), he’s very much male. So gender really has nothing to do with it.

He does not have loud melt downs when he’s overloaded. He shuts down, withdraws and goes inside himself instead.
He observes and mimics others in social situations, putting on whatever “hat” is needed at that given time.
He will keep his struggles inside and only let them out when he’s in a safe, familiar space.

However, these are all regarded to be “female” autistic traits. So why is there the need for the divide???

It is all just autism. We sorely need a diagnostic system that assesses traits from a whole perspective taking into account all types of presentation, rather than only certain according to the private parts of the individuals.

Females need to stop having their diagnoses missed because they’re hyper intelligent, verbal, outgoing, social and epic mimics – and males need to be recognised for their disability even when they’re all of these things too.

Being quiet
Being outgoing
Liking people
Preferring solitude
Loud meltdowns
Internal silent shut downs

…. I could go on. Seriously, enough.

Please, let us include all of the autistic traits in the future diagnostic manuals, so that autism isn’t such an invisible disability anymore, and our loved ones can get access to the support that they need. Having an autistic diagnosis has a great impact on an individual’s identity and sense of self, and this isn’t something that should be withheld – definitely not when it hinges on a criteria that changes depending on what is between an individual’s legs.

I really just struggle to what gender has to do with it.




“Help! It’s cold and my kid won’t wear clothes!”

I’ve noticed the above phrase is something that keeps popping up across various groups and communities online, so I thought I would write a blog about my take on this topic.

So okay, I get it. It’s like 9 degrees outside and your child is refusing to put on pants or wear socks or a jumper. They point blank just won’t, and you’re worried about their health.

The thing is..

Firstly; it is a well known fact that autistic individuals have unique sensory systems of their own which mean they experience different types of input in their own unique way. Some don’t feel pain, others feel pain acutely, some have issues with clothing, others don’t, some love to jump, others don’t.. it goes on and on. Wearing clothes is more often than not due to the child’s very own sensory preferences. Maybe they just actually don’t feel the cold. Like, seriously. Fancy that! So they see no need to wear layers as the cool weather doesn’t personally affect them. Or maybe they don’t like the way the warmer clothes feel on their skin, even though these clothes may feel fine to you. Wool can be itchy, loose clothing or those with tassels can be annoying and tickle, fleece can make them sweat, perhaps they feel restricted and maybe wearing certain clothes actually hurts them. It isn’t your body, you aren’t feeling it yourself so you don’t get to force the point.

I get that you’re concerned, because their reaction to the cooler weather isn’t the same as yours. But that’s where this next point comes in..

Secondly; there is the important issue of consent. This is to say, that every child is in control of their own bodies and their own choices regarding their body. This is something that I often see discounted when it comes to autistic kids, and something I find very alarming. I have read of other parents forcing their children to wear warmer clothes, physically holding them down and forcing these warmer clothes onto their children. This is not okay. Every child has the right to feel safe and respected in their body and have their body and personal space respected by others. Forcing clothing that others deem acceptable, simply due to different neurology – is unacceptable. You might not understand it necessarily and you may not feel the same but autism means individuals think, feel, see and process things differently. Consent still applies here.

So what can you do? Well, here are a few approaches that may help:

  1. Educate your child about the weather. Create a visual weather chart with pictures and removable indicators: cold, rainy, hot, windy. Provide examples of suitable clothing choices for each type of weather. Play games about the weather, read books about the weather and pay attention together about what clothing options might be better suited for the variety of seasons.
  2. Encourage tactile exploration and play in a no-pressure, fun environment. By this I mean, offer opportunities for your child to get messy with their hands and body. A lot of the time clothing refusal is due to tactile hypersensitivity – so the things that touch our skin have a greater effect. By playing with a variety of sensory experiences, it can gently acclimatise and build tolerance for the body. I’m talking slime, sand, rice trays, play doh, finger painting, cooking, gardening, ooblek.. you get the gist. This book is a fantastic resource for ideas. Make it fun!
  3. Give the child some control. You can do this by taking them with you shopping, encouraging them to touch different clothes and exposing them to a variety of textiles. Find out what they like, find out what they don’t – and go from there.

And really, try and relax. Because at the end of the day it isn’t actually possible to catch a cold from the cold. Just make sure your child is getting a daily dose of vitamin D on their skin!

Have you seen my series of posts which explore the sensory system? Check out part 1 here.


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