Home » ExchangeEveryDay

Today's ExchangeEveryDay

<< Previous Issue | View Past Issues | ExchangeEveryDay
Do I have to wear this coat?
December 6, 2023
When we see a behavior that is 'problematic' or 'confusing', the first question we should ask is not 'How do we get rid of this behavior?' but rather ‘What is this telling us about the child?’
-Mona Delahooke, pediatric psychologist

Ever baffled by children (or adults) who refuse to wear winter coats? In a post on Autistic, Typing, Jules Edwards declares, "Fear not, a person with Winter Coat Avoidance is here to explain what this is, why this is, and what you can do about it!"

As a neurodivergent parent of neurodivergent children, Edwards suggests that those who won’t wear coats "are not refusing because they want to be difficult or disobedient. They are refusing because winter coats are hard… A winter coat with shoulders that are too tight feels like I'm being restrained…[It] can make me feel like I'm in danger, because it slows my response time. It may make me feel like I'm going to fall over, because it prevents me from using my body to balance…All that to say - the discomfort of the coat is worse than the discomfort of the cold."

She offers suggestions, including:

Adapt to a person’s sensory needs. Offer coats with more shoulder room or stretchier fabrics, or offer layers, perhaps a fleece jacket and windbreaker, to put on as needed.

Focus on the facts, not how you think someone else should feel:
"One way to inform is ‘It is 10 degrees Fahrenheit and it is windy right now. This is well below the freezing point. It is dangerous to be in these temperatures for more than a couple of minutes, because you could get frostbite or hypothermia.’"


  • If the risk is low…negotiate bringing a jacket to put on if necessary.

  • One option could be to wear the coat only over the shoulders.

  • If it is, in reality, too risky, tell them they can't go outside without a coat, but if they'd like to go outside for a shorter amount of time, they won't have to wear the jacket as long.

Edwards concludes, "These negotiations are incredibly important because not only do they help the person make informed decisions, it also helps people to learn the process of making safe decisions."


Delivered five days a week containing news, success stories, solutions, trend reports, and much more.

What is ExchangeEveryDay?

ExchangeEveryDay is the official electronic newsletter for Exchange Press. It is delivered five days a week containing news stories, success stories, solutions, trend reports, and much more.

Post a Comment

Have an account? to submit your comment.


Your e-mail address will not be visible to other website visitors.

Check the box below, to help verify that you are not a bot. Doing so helps prevent automated programs from abusing this form.

Disclaimer: Exchange reserves the right to remove any comments at its discretion or reprint posted comments in other Exchange materials.