wanted and loved

“Well, your mom didn’t even want you so that’s why you had to get adopted!” I heard this coming from one of my kid’s bedroom. The next sound heard was that of my crying child. I ran to comfort my child. My husband following to hug our child, while I stood in the bedroom of the child to which those words were spoken. “Why? Why would you say that? That isn’t the truth – about you or any your siblings. We’ve never said that. All of you are adopted and loved and very much wanted. Don’t say that because the world is going to tell you that and it’s not true,” I said, while looking into my child’s eyes. My child looked right back into my eyes and said, “The world has already told me this.”

Taken back, stricken with a twinge of heart-pain, I reassured my children the truth that they are very much wanted and loved by all members of families – biological and non-biological.

Yesterday was World Adoption Day and this memory of a recent conversation just kept playing over in my mind. I chose to take a pic of my empty hand – no words or symbols. Nothing.

Because sometimes adoption seems so full of nothingness and overwhelmed by everything at the same time.

Because adoption is filled with immeasurable despair and longing; yet also carries a sustainable hope.

Because all of us (adoptive parents) can’t let it be about us – our wants and our needs.

Because every single day, we have to get up with a blank slate – one that we don’t pour our own expectations all over; one that we let our kids write their feelings on.

World Adoption Day is about bringing support and awareness for adoption by encouraging people to snap a pic of their hands with smiley faces on them. I certainly hope my lack of a smiley face or words on my hand suggests that I don’t support it. I do. I always will. There are plenty of smiling, joyful moments in adoption.

But sometimes, we have to be the blank slate – one that never turns away from our children’s feelings; one that gets rid of what we thought parenting would be like.

One that fully recognizes we have so much to learn.

Autism-friendly home environments

Image credit: Pixabay

Many children on the autism spectrum have sensitivities to their surroundings. As such, there are a number of home design and layout features that should be taken into consideration based on your child’s unique needs so that you can create Autism-friendly home environments. This article will provide you with valuable information as you navigate parenting a child on the spectrum.

Home Location

While it’s not always possible to find a home situated on a perfectly quiet and peaceful cul-de-sac, if you have the option to be picky when it comes to your home’s location and layout, consider the environment best suited to your family’s needs. For example, if your child wanders, you might be more comfortable with a home situated internally in your neighborhood. Avoid busy streets. If your child has separation anxiety, a two-story home with the owner’s suite on the first floor and secondary bedrooms on the second floor might be problematic. If you have specific needs in mind and are working with a real estate professional, inform them in advance of your preferences so they can help you narrow your search appropriately. The goal is to create an autism-friendly home environment.

Interior Design

Some kids on the autism spectrum have a sensitivity to fluorescent light and loud ambient sounds. Acoustic finishes can help insulate living spaces, and noise-canceling headphones can provide on-the-spot respite as needed. Other kids have a need for order and continuity. Do your best to create a living environment that is calm and peaceful and caters to your child’s particular needs. For example, choose a bedroom removed from heavy traffic. If you’re moving from another location, unpack your child’s belongings first and set up their room in a similar fashion to their previous room. Creating an organizational system for personal belongings helps to create a sense of order. Use color in line with how it stimulates or relaxes your child. For many on the spectrum, muted colors are good for concentration and focus. More vibrant colors are appropriate for activity areas.

Furniture and Finishes

Heavy furniture often works best in homes with autistic children. Rounded rather than sharp edges on things like counters and tables can also help prevent injuries. Exposed cords, wires and open-railing stairwells present hazards. Bright, shiny, or busy surfaces or decor that “feel loud” can be too much for some sensitivities. Glazed muted windows with auto blinds, and dimmable LED lighting in common areas can help change the mood of various sections of the home, as needed. You may also want to create “stimulus zones” that allow for engagement and stimulation without making your child feel overwhelmed. According to The Art of Autism, sensory issues can change over time. Follow your child’s cues in creating an autism-friendly home environment. 

Create Space for Movement

Kids on the autism spectrum need safe, fun outlets for energy, especially those who self-soothe by fidgeting. Create a room designed just for this purpose, like a bedroom or area of the family room with gym mats, bean bag chairs, and rocking toys. Give your child control over the environment and make sure lighting can be adjusted as necessary. According to the New York Times, you can also create a “reset” space in which there’s a calm, secluded environment in which to relax. For example, a mini tent or fort with a weighted blanket offers a calm, cool, quiet environment that provides a much-needed retreat space if your child becomes easily overwhelmed.   

An autism-friendly home environment can be a haven in which your child can thrive. Taking sensory and emotional needs into consideration allows you to give your child a greater sense of self-confidence and independence. All of which leads to a better quality of life for the whole family. 

*Admin note: Thank you to Amanda Henderson for this guest post on the important topic of creating Autism-friendly home environments . Amanda enjoys writing in her free time, and recently decided to create safechildren.info so that she would have a place to share her thoughts and favorite resources on parenting and child safety.