Autism and Hot Weather

I’ve had to wait until it cooled down enough for me to write this.

For the last few days, the heat has been an absolute nightmare for me. I’ve had a cold, probably with a temperature, but without the energy to crawl to the medicine box and find a thermometer with which to check that hypothesis. Even though I’m recovering, now, the heat is still making things difficult.

This one’s a bit of a common theme, I’m afraid. Any time there’s prolonged discomfort or even prolonged sensation there’s that nagging risk of sensory overload hanging around there, and it sneaks up on you. It’s really hard to keep track of how ongoing sensations are affecting my internal state, but they continuously eat up processing power until something else, either my language, or decision making ability, or physical ability or patience runs out and I have one of a variety of flavours of meltdowns.

That’s just the discomfort associated with the heat, though. On top of that there’s an increased risk of dehydration, which is harder to keep an eye on due to reduced processing power. I set myself reminders to re-hydrate regularly. Even with access to a bottle of water (I carry one with me all the time), I don’t always remember to drink enough without reminders. Having a good 500ml+ bottle with measurement marks on it helps me to track my intake. A comfortable spout and easy-to-operate closure help by not putting me off with the hassle of opening the bottle and drinking. My current bottle has a straw inside so I don’t have to tip it to drink, which helps a bit.

Dressing for hot weather is hard. I like the comfort of being wrapped in a big jumper or hoodie, but the heat requires that I wear less in order to avoid overheating. Button-up hoodies would be ideal, as they don’t have the uncomfortable bulges and sharp snags that zippered jackets do. Clothing with buttons and zips can be opened and closed to adjust temperature without removing the garment.

Sleep is also difficult. Luckily, I haven’t had any need for weight when sleeping so far this summer. When I do, a weighted blanket works wonders for adding weight with very little accompanying heat.

Bathing has become uncomfortable. Showers are impractical both because of the leaky seals around the bath and because of my dreadlocks, so I’ve been favouring baths since the move. I like my baths hot, cold water (even warm water that just isn’t warm enough) just leaves me uncomfortable and unhappy. Sponge baths seems to work, though. I can use warm enough water without the risk of overheating as I’m not fully submerged.

Got your own tips for managing autism and hot weather? Let me know in the comments, or drop me an e-mail.

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