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For people with Down syndrome, family members, caregivers and professionals.

Managing Anxiety During Storms

March 2022 | Adult Down Syndrome Center - Resource

We received a question from a family member of an individual with Down syndrome who is anxious and fearful of bad weather, particularly thunderstorms. Thunder, lightning, strong winds, heavy rain, hail, and other weather phenomena can be a source of anxiety and fear for some individuals with Down syndrome. We have shared a list of tips for managing anxiety during storms below. 

managing anxiety during storms

  • It can be helpful for some individuals to make a plan for the next time there is a storm.
    • Questions to answer in the plan could include: Where will I go during the storm? What will I do during the storm? What will I do if the storm happens during the middle of the night? Who can I ask for help?
  • When a storm starts, reassure the individual. Remind them that the storm will pass. 

  • If seeing the storm is distressing, close the window blinds or move into a room without windows. 

  • If hearing the storm is distressing, try wearing ear plugs to reduce the noise. You can also try listening to music or watching a TV show or movie (with or without headphones) to reduce the noise. 

  • Consider using sensory strategies to help the individual calm down. These strategies could include using a weighted product such as a blanket, doing joint compression, or squeezing a stress ball, among many others. For more information on sensory strategies, please see our sensory resources at this link.

  • Encourage the individual to do calming activities such as taking deep breaths, counting to ten, or stretching/doing yoga. We have a visual handout with several calming activities at this link.

  • Ask the individual what would make them feel better. Encourage the individual to do an activity such as coloring, watching TV or a movie, listening to music, reading, doing an exercise video or other indoor exercise, working on a puzzle, or performing household chores. A list of additional activities you can do at home can be found at this link.

  • Avoid watching weather reports on TV or following weather updates on phones, tablets, or computers. 

If these strategies do not provide relief, consider scheduling an assessment with a healthcare or mental health provider to explore other therapies to reduce anxiety. Recommendations on how to find a mental health provider are described in this resource.

Please note: The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for a medical, psychiatric, mental health, or behavioral evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment plan by a qualified professional. We recommend you review the educational material with your health providers regarding the specifics of your health care needs.

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