Spectrum Warriors: Life Through The Autism Spectrum

Using The Olympics As A Therapy Tool

Winter – the time of year for ice skating, tobogganing, snowman making, snowball throwing.. Kids often love this time of year, they enjoying playing in the snow. Not so much in my house.

My daughter is not a “fan” of winter as she puts it. Read HATES winter. When it snows for more than an hour at a time, she gets extremely anxious because the snow makes everything look different and she doesn’t want to go outside. Her anxiety is so high that she worries about car accidents. We’ve never been in a car accident with her and in fact my husband who is an automotive journalist has taken many winter performance driving courses. No one we know has (thankfully) been in a car accident, so where she has the idea for this, we don’t know. But she is adamant that she does not want to leave the house as soon as it starts to snow.

Every winter, I made the excuse that well she’s just little, putting on all that gear is tough, next year she’ll love winter. We bought her mini skis, have made snow men, snow angels, tried skating, you name it. She has no interest in it. One of her biggest complaints which I can understand is not liking how the wind feels on her face. She has a hard time with regulating temperature to begin with – bath water, food and so it stands to reason going from inside to outside (warm to cold) likely wreaks havoc on her body.  You can read a great post from the Aspie Writer’s blog on how weather affects her (it’s like a carbon copy of life in our house).

However, we live in Canada –  New Brunswick more specifically and winter is a fact of life here. She may never love winter, but being a recluse for 4 months of the year is not an option. This year has been especially tough with  crazy temperature swings, deep freezes, and ice storms. When we do get a good snow dump it’s usually mid week while mom and dad have to work. MJ attends a home-based daycare which makes it sometimes (understandably) difficult to get play time outside for all kiddies when you have differing nap schedules and other logistical things to coordinate as well as a kid who will refuse to go out.  She also gets therapy in the afternoons, which depending on the programs they are running may or may not allow for time outside. Or it’s physically storming.  By the time the weekend comes, it’s either too messy, too icy or too cold.

So in an effort to get her to get her to face up to old man winter we’re doing a little experiment using the Olympics as a therapy tool.

MJ is a very visual person, she needs to see how something is done in order to understand why we do things. So we are exposing her to all the various events seen on TV to see if she shows an interest in participating in any of these activities. We’re  only a few days in, but so far there’s only one event that has sparked her interest – speed skating.

She will stop whatever she is doing and watch it intensely, asking questions about technique (why do they bend low, why do they put a hand behind their back etc.) and about their outfits. She will ask questions about the athletes and the countries they are from, sometimes trying to place them on her Atlas. This is the only sport where she has shown this kind of interest. All other sports she will briefly look at and then lose interest immediately.


We laugh because speed skating is an indoor activity – but hey, it’s a winter sport! It’s still early days so perhaps she’ll find another sport before the Oylmpics are over and if not, well I guess it’s time to investigate skating programs / speed skating lessons 🙂 And if it doesn’t work, at least we are enjoying family time, being patriotic and teaching her about all the countries of the world and sportsman like conduct!

Happy Olympics watching!


*Photo Credit http://www.ctvnews.ca

1 Comment


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