We have officially hit that time of year again where it is hard to know day-to-day if your child will be having school. The snow and the cold always bring with them a number of cancellations, or at least 2-hour delays for my crew. When I was a kid, I always dreamed of snow days. We would turn on the radio and listen intently to the alphabetical list just hoping that your schools name was said. My daughter is the same way. Things are not always that simple for Damion though. Any day that affects the standard daily routine can be tough when you have an autistic child that thrives off of a pre-set schedule. But with a few tricks up this mom’s sleeve, I think I have gotten him almost as excited about a snow day off as the rest of my crew: Here’s what I do to help:
- Night Before Communication
If I find out the night before of a school cancellation, I try to immediately start to communicate that with Damion so he is prepared for the change. If I don’t have that much of a heads up, we tell him that he will be going to school the next day. For him, it is easier to prepare him for a school day and then switch to being home instead of the reverse. But as much notice of a change as we can give him is always helpful.
- Picture Schedule
Damion has gotten pretty used to his summer days and weekends having a picture schedule of what we have planned. He loves them. Regardless of what I even put on the schedule; he is just happy when one is made up for him. The thrill of having your whole day planned out, I guess. I have a desktop and printer at home, so I generally just make one up and print it off. Access to any digital photo I would need makes this creation method the easiest for me. If you don’t have that set up, there are a lot of other ways to make up picture schedules ahead of time to keep on hand. You could even pre-make a “snow day” schedule to have on hand ahead of time so you are ready to go when the time comes.
- Do Fun Snow Things
Playing in the snow has all kinds of great sensory aspects. The kids got some new sleds from their grandparents this year for Christmas, so our go to of course for our most recent snow day was sledding at our house. My kids love thrill so it is fun going down the hill of course, and then you get in some great “heavy work” if you have them pull the sled back up the hill themselves. Damion does not enjoy the cold for long, if your kiddo is the same you can always get a big bucket and bring the snow inside for a bit too. It is fun to play in and for my kids, fun to eat too. They like it straight up but snow ice cream can be a fun way to eat it too. Just remember to teach them early not to eat the yellow snow!
Just a couple easy tips that have helped us really enjoy an unexpected snow day off. I am thankful that our recent snow days were full days off and not just 2-hour delays, as those tend to be much harder on Damion. School is a constant in many ways because it is so routine based, and a 2-hour delay really changes that in a way that I can’t really help with on my end. Damion always takes change better when there is something fun going on. I mean really, who doesn’t? And what can be more fun for a kid than playing in the snow? So, if you see there is snow in your upcoming forecast, start your schedule prep now so you are ready to help your ASD kids enjoy a snow day the way all other kids do.