Spring is here! This means warmer weather, longer days, rain and lots of sunshine! With a new season, comes a lot of change.
These changes may include the temperature, clothing, smells and even critters crawling around. Change can be difficult for some people, and even more challenging for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who may thrive on routine and predictability.
Below are some common topics families have asked about and tips to help you support your child through the upcoming season change.
With the change in season, comes a change in the clothing your child will be wearing. It will soon be time to put away snow pants, clunky boots and toques and bring out spring clothing. It is important to bring out this clothing ahead of time and let your child choose which ones they are more likely to wear.
It is best to offer as much choice as possible. For example, take your child shopping and have them choose which clothes to purchase if new ones are needed, or allow them to choose what clothes they are going to wear each day. Once they select clothing options, have them practice trying on and wearing some of the clothes ahead of time. Remember to provide praise and encouragement throughout this process!
New bugs and critters
When spring arrives, we often see an increase in the number of bugs and critters around us. There will be worms on the sidewalk after the rain, spiders, lady bugs and more. Some kids will enjoy the arrival of these new friends, while others will be fearful. If your child fears bugs and critters, it’s important to support them and let them know you understand they are afraid by acknowledging their fear.
After acknowledging the fear with your child, you can work to build a tolerance and increase confidence over time by exposure to the insect or fear gradually. For example, start by looking at pictures, move to watching the bug or animal on a video, and then try to find it outside in the yard to observe and inch closer as your child becomes more comfortable.
It’s important to teach coping strategies to help calm your child as they work through this fear. Try providing a fidget item they can carry, practice taking deep breaths or making a fist and releasing a few times as they breathe in and out. You can also consider doing research with your child to learn some fun facts about the insect! If you notice a fear of bugs and critters impacts their day-to-day life, you should seek out professional help if needed.
Social narratives are stories that you can use to prepare your child for the changes that will occur as we transition into spring. They use simple sentences and a visual format to explain and increase understanding about a situation. You can create a social narrative for your child about how the snow will melt, the grass will turn green, leaves will grow on the trees and the weather will get warmer.
You can also include fun activities that your child can do now that the weather is getting warmer, such as drawing with chalk on the driveway, playing in the sandbox or spending more time at the park. Think about activities your child enjoys doing during the upcoming season and include this in your story.
Autism Little Learners shares great examples of social narratives for common situations. You can view them on their website here. Please note a social narrative should be individualized for the needs of each child.
Another way to prepare for this season change, is to incorporate some fun activities related to spring! This will create more opportunities to prepare and hopefully lessen some of the worry your child may be feeling.
You can print off a spring scavenger hunt and, like this one from the Wondermom Wannabe website here. You can also check out the Arts, Crats and DIY section of our Kinark Kreates videos on our website here. Some of the videos include how to make a butterfly, finger paint flowers and create a DIY rain cloud activity using shaving cream, water, and food colouring!
It’s important to remember that a change in the season is a chance for a fresh start because it allows for new things to explore and different activities to try. With a little planning and preparation ahead of time, it can be an enjoyable experience for your child and family!
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- Donlan, D., Smith, B., & Smith, J. (2012). Helping Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Through Everyday Transitions: Small Changes – Big Challenges. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishing.
- Cara Koscinski. (2019). 5 Tips for Transitioning to Summer and Winter Clothes. Retrieved January 30, 2022, from https://www.pocketot.com/5-tips-for-transitioning-to-summer-clothing/. Donlan, D., Smith, B., & Smith, J. (2012). Helping Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Through Everyday Transitions: Small Changes – Big Challenges. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishing.
- Cara Koscinski. (2019). 5 Tips for Transitioning to Summer and Winter Clothes. Retrieved January 30, 2022, from https://www.pocketot.com/5-tips-for-transitioning-to-summer-clothing/.