Sensory and Snow
Tips for making Snow Days more fun for your sensory child!
You get the call from school, Snow Day! Yay!
For many children with sensory processing challenges, playing outside in the snow can be an overwhelming experience. Let’s start from the beginning and talk about all the ways sensory processing can affect a child.
Getting Dressed: Squeezing into thicker socks, layering snow pants on top of regular pants. Bunched up fabrics. And then mittens, boots and hats, oh my! So many different textures and sensations then what is felt when typically getting dressed.
Temperature Changes: Once kiddos are dressed, it is so easy to become overheated while inside wearing extra layers. Then feeling cold when outside. Then hot when coming back inside and cold again! It is a lot of temperature changes that can really affect a child’s regulation. Additionally, some children who have a high threshold for sensory input, may not feel “cold” as quickly. They require more “input” or in this case, longer duration and more intense cold to register that feeling. Sometimes this means, they don’t feel like they are cold, until it is almost painful and then it becomes this intense feeling that causes dysregulation.
Snow: Falling snow can be dysregulating when it lands on a child’s face. It is wet, then cold, then drippy! Walking in snow requires increased balance, core strength and postural stability.
Strategies for a more successful experience:
Try to avoid over heating when getting dressed. Put on bottom layers first and then coat on last with a door open or in a garage if possible.
Practice wearing gloves, boots and hats in the house before wearing them outside to troubleshoot any difficulties with tolerating these new items.
Prepare. Talk about how snow might feel on their skin. Have a “snow bath,” when you bring snow into the bathtub to play with. Talk about how snow is cold and then it melts and turns into water.
Breaks. Start with small increments of time outside with breaks in the back of a car or inside to warm up before going back outside.
Remember to have fun and go with your child’s lead!