Autism & Summer: How to Cope with Seasonal Changes

By Meredith Dangel

Autism Warm Weather Coping

Adjusting to changes in the summer weather can be challenging for autistics. The shifts in routine and sensory experiences can disrupt their sense of familiarity and comfort, potentially leading to increased anxiety and difficulty adapting to the new season. Let’s explore the impact of season transitions and discuss strategies to support autistic folks during these periods of change.


For many autistic folks, routine and predictability bring comfort. The arrival of a new season can disrupt routines, as daily activities, clothing choices, and sensory experiences change. The shift in weather, daylight hours, and outdoor activities can present unexpected challenges, overwhelming individuals with autism who struggle with change and transitions. As much as possible, we should maintain a semblance of “normal” and continue the routines that mean the most. Strike a balance between maintaining essential routines and being flexible to accommodate the necessary changes. We can prepare for new activities by providing information, practicing new skills, and ensuring folks feel supported to make the transition smoother.

Sensory Sensitivities

Changes in temperature can be challenging for individuals with autism. Going outdoors can be problematic and even dangerous for those who prefer warmer clothing, such as long sleeves and long pants. And for some folks, interoception differences make it hard to notice when they are overheating. In these cases, supportive family, friends, or care providers can show patience and help the individual choose appropriate clothing that is still comfortable. Gradual exposure to new clothing materials and providing options for comfort may help them adjust. Additionally, we can show our support if the individual chooses to spend little time outside in the warmer months.

Light and temperature also change inside during the summer. Individuals who are sensitive to bright lights or changes in brightness may need adjustable lighting options, blinds, shades, or other accommodations to create a consistent environment. Likewise, the air conditioning may need to be adjusted for comfort.

Coping with Discomfort

No matter how much we prepare for change, sometimes it just stinks! For folks who feel stuck in a season they don’t like, remember:

  • You’ve done this before and can again! What worked last time? Can you use those hacks again?
  • Reduce demands during this time. If you’re struggling, now is not the time to add new demands to your life. Do what you can to create ease.
  • Engage in preferred activities. Embrace special interests and utilize hobbies for relaxation. Stim away!
  • Decline distressing activities. Say no to invitations that cause overwhelm and anxiety – unless you really want to go, in which case go with all the accommodations you need.
  • Seek tips from others. Ask other autistic folks what works for them. You may find a new hack.

What would you add to this list?

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