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.
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.
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.