We’re headed into summer where I live and when I went for a walk in the park today I noticed people dressed for all different seasons. Some were in shorts and tank tops, others were in jeans and t-shirts, and on occasion I saw someone wearing what I would consider a winter coat. This reminded me of what it was like with an autistic son when he was younger. There were winters he would wear shorts nonstop and summers in which he refused to wear shorts. It was a surprise when he finally did start to wear shorts one summer.
For neurotypical parents or parents with minimal sensory issues, this may seem so odd. But if your autistic child struggles with sensory issues, this may make changing wardrobes with the season even more difficult. If they have spent the summer in shorts or dresses, the feelings of pants, jeans, or leggings on the skin may be more than they can handle. If it’s now summer and for the last several months their legs have been covered, the feeling of bare skin may be uncomfortable.
If sensory issues aren’t enough, there’s also the transition from one season to the next. This may be a change in routine and a change in places frequented. Add to that putting away the winter coat, or getting it out, it may be too much for them to handle.
So what did I do when my son was wearing shorts in the winter and a fleece in the summer? I would let him! I always had more seasonally appropriate clothing set out for him each day, but it was his choice as to what he would wear. What I often found was by him seeing it for days or weeks in a row, he would eventually choose the pants in the winter and stop wearing the hoodie in the summer.
If you’re worried about your child getting cold, then pack extra clothes. During the summer, pack a pair of shorts and a lighter shirt, just in case. Our autistic children learn and develop at their own pace, and that’s okay!