How To Keep Children & Adults With Special Needs Warm In The Winter
Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression. If someone you are caring for has special needs, they may be more vulnerable to cold-related illnesses, so it’s really important to keep them wrapped up.
Sometimes that can be easier said than done, however. What do you do if your child has sensory issues, and can’t tolerate the sensation of hats or gloves? How do you keep someone in a wheelchair warm?
18 Tips For Keeping Warm In The Winter
The following tips have been contributed to Scope by parents of children and adults with special needs. We hope you will find them useful, and please do share your own!
1. Wheelchair cozy toes
A really cheap way of keeping someone in a wheelchair warm is by adapting a child's sleeping bag into a cozy toes. A few nips, tucks and holes for straps and you're there!
2. Be a role model
Your child may be more likely to put on a hat, gloves, etc. if he/she sees family members consistently doing the same. You can also make a game of it. Try to make dressing for the cold weather fun by seeing who can get their coat, hat, and gloves on the quickest.
3. Ski mittens
Try ski mittens - they are so much easier to put on than gloves, and very warm.
I've found legwarmers to be a really good extra layer of warmth for my daughter. They are really easy to slip over her clothing and then remove once indoors. I use adult ones that cover her entire leg.
5. Use visual storyboards
Create visual storyboards showing different types of weather and appropriate clothing for each. This can help the person you are caring for choose the most appropriate clothing.
6. Sleep tight
We had 12 years of Andrew waking during the night. A health professional suggested we wrap a quilt cover over the bed and tuck it in tightly either side under the mattress, so his bedding doesn't come off, and he feels snug and tightly tucked in. It worked instantly, and he has slept better ever since.
7. Hot food & drinks
Food is a vital source of energy and helps keep you body warm. Make sure the person you are caring for has regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day. I always take a flask of hot chocolate or tea with us when we’re out and about on cold days.
8. Snow boots
If you are looking for suitable winter footwear for someone who wears splints, many makes of snow boot will unzip quite low or velcro open, thus easier to put on.
9. Alternative head covers
Jamaal can’t bear to wear any hat under any circumstances. But we can get him to wear a hoodie and have also been successful with a deep fleece ski type headband or a buff.
We got some heat bead slip-on feet warmers for our son John. You just pop in the microwave for 30 seconds and they are absolutely fantastic!
11. iDress for Weather
iDress for Weather is a useful app to help support people in choosing appropriate clothes for the weather conditions. Useful to encourage independence and learning.
12. Ski trousers
Ski trousers are great for wheelchair users. For extra warmth, put thermal long johns underneath.
13.Fingerless fleece gloves
Persuading my son to wear gloves has always been a battle as most gloves are made of wool, which he doesn't like. It is also a visual impairment issue as a lot of his information comes through his fingers. The most success we have had has been with fingerless gloves made of fleece. This year I have bought two cheap pairs the same colour, so if we lose one we will still have a pair.
14. Coats & wheelchairs
Greg uses a wheelchair, so I have made a large vertical slit up the back of his coat, which makes it easier to take his coat on and off.
15. Warm & weighty duvets
For the warmth of a duvet without the weight on feet and legs, make small bean bag cushions and put one on each corner at the end of the bed.
16. Its a wrap!
For someone of any age a “haramaki” (belly wrap) is brilliant, especially for people with less movement. By keeping your middle warm your whole body warms very effectively. It is easy to get on over or under clothing and more comfortable than bulky layers.It stretches with you which is great for people sitting in chairs.
17. Puppet love
Rosie wouldn't keep gloves on so I bought her 2 glove puppets and she happily keeps them on.
18. Long socks, warm hands
Our son constantly removes gloves. He also chews them & he would bite them off if we sewed them to his coat or put them on a string. So now we use long socks which cover his arms and then put his coat over the top. They're much harder to remove, but he has space enough for his fingers to move.
You may also want to check out: Koolway Sports Brings Comfortable Outerwear To Wheelchair Users
Emma Sterland helps run the online community at Scope, a national UK-based disability charity, offering support for disabled people and their families. All the tips used in this post were contributed by members of the online community, and can be seen in the tips section of the community .