SPD and Air Conditioning: Baby It’s Cold Inside
Summer is over, school is back in session and the air conditioning is blasting full force. Or maybe you’re wearing your winter parka in the office to heat up from the cold air vents blowing on you continuously. Do you have to take a break outside to warm your face in the sun?
A recent study in the journal Nature Climate Change explained that women feel colder than men in the same temperature, so I’m taking a leap here and hypothesizing that children would feel even colder at the same temperature being that they’re an even lower body weight. Their metabolism has to work in overdrive keep them warm.
Looking at air-conditioning from a sensory perspective, the cold air makes the body work harder to maintain 98 degrees. We have to put on more clothes, itchy sweaters, scratchy mittens, strangling scarves to help our bodies retain heat. Some women resort to hats or beanies to warm their miserably freezing heads. So what do we do when we can’t wear ear muffs in school?
Often, kids are so cold and can’t articulate what result that is having on their bodies and sensory systems. For me personally, air-conditioning breaks me down. At the start of summer, I welcome the cool breeze pumping through my vents. But, by the end of summer, my sinuses are begging for the synthetic flurry to end.
Some symptoms I’ll feel upon the air-conditioning coming on in the car include a ice pick headache, my jaw will hurt and it will resemble a tooth ache, and my nose burns from inside my skull. Just image a child trying to focus in school while in pain. And worse, not understanding why their body is having such a negative reaction, especially while some kids are not affected at all (perhaps due to higher body weight or higher internal temperature).
Some children may appear to have allergies when reacting to the air-conditioning, while others may be more severe and seem flu-like. If your child already has SPD or sensory issues, this could send them into melt down mode, and rightfully so. A body can only take so much stimuli before shutting down. For years, many have complained that air conditioning is the cause of their migraines and/or chronic sinusitis.
The noise (constant buzzing, or repeatedly turning on or off) can be an auditory distraction, running at a frequency that your child may be unable to handle.
Another things to consider is the vents may be in dire need of cleaning, sending out chemicals, stale air, or other allergens. There is more than just cold air circulating into the room.
So, how can we help our kiddos beat their frozen classrooms?
- Encourage your child’s teacher to keep the thermostat at a reasonable temperate based on the children, and not the male teacher’s 225 lbs. If that’s not possible, or your teacher runs hot as she races around the class tending to her 35 students, then perhaps your child can take outside breaks to warm up.
- Dress your child in layers, as if it’s winter, so they can peel off sweaters when they’re hot and put on a jacket if they’re unbearably cold. Maybe leave a few options in a drawer by the teacher so that your child is never without a sweater if they keep wearing them home.
- Teach them to warm their hands by rubbing them together and breathing hot air onto them.
- Pack a thermos with soup and/or tea to warm them up during lunch.
- Put the windows down in the car instead of air-con so their systems get a break from the blast.
- Stay out of movie theaters and grocery stores while they’re recovering from a school day of air con.
Are you freezing at work? Or is your child complaining about headaches at school? Could it be the air conditioning? We’d love to hear from you.
Or is your child more affected by the heat? Read about SPD and Heat here!
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Jackie Linder Olson