Home Design Tips to Benefit Your Child with Autism
More than one in 68 children will be diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) each year. One in six children is diagnosed with a developmental disability ranging from speech and language impairments to severe developmental disabilities each year. With these high numbers, more time in autism research has become necessary. More focus is being placed on child development and possible strategies to help those with autism and those living with someone who has autism to have a better quality of life.
This month’s focus is on how to make living arrangements more suitable for someone with autism. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to designing your home to be autism-friendly, but there are some helpful tips that may meet your needs. Hopefully, some of these ideas will help you and your child with autism live more comfortably.
Create a Sensory Garden
Having an accessible garden can both create sensory stimulation and motivate your child. A healthy sensory environment will provide the means for your child to ground themselves with nature. The act of gardening provides a way for your child to connect to the natural rhythms of life. The garden will provide a way for them to connect to something larger than themselves.
Horticulture Therapeutic Benefits- Gardens and plants help with emotional and physical healing. The art of using plants as tools for healing is not new. Throughout time plants have been incorporated as horticulture therapy as a part of holistic healing. This form of therapy benefits those with emotional, physical, social, and mental challenges. Studies show those who can care and tend to plants are more successful in other areas of their life.
Provide Optimal Sleeping Area
Sleepless nights and insomnia are significant concerns within the autism community. Your child's sleeping area will make a big difference for environmental factors. Some of the things to do so your child has an optimal sleeping area is:
Put all toys away before going to bed
Use black-out curtains
Choose soothing colors for painting the walls and ceiling
Use more natural lighting
Designate the bedroom as a 'sleeping only' area
Use Stimulating Furniture
Sensory swings are a great way to calm your child if they become overstimulated. Heavy drapes are another addition to your home so outside noises are muffled and there are no outside distractions. When the room is quiet and without distractions, it will invite activity within the room. Other additions you can include for sensory integration needs for your child are:
Bean Bag chairs
Reduce or Eliminate Noise in Dining Area
Many children with autism find it challenging to eat solid foods. Some of the reasons behind this difficulty are due to sensory interactions with food or physical ailments. These two issues may need to be addressed before you consider environmental changes to your dining area.
If you have ruled out the sensory interaction and physical ailments for your child, you may want to consider eliminating excess stimulation from the room. When you reduce disturbances, it allows your child to focus on swallowing and chewing their food. The dining room should not be associated with other activities, try to keep the conversations limited while eating.
Other Considerations in Home Design to Benefit a Child with Autism
Other tips for you to use when designing your home to benefit include:
Use low arousal or calming decorative themes
Divide areas for certain activities and if possible, use different colors for each
Incorporate a 'quiet room' where your child can retreat if they become overwhelmed
Use indirect lighting rather than fluorescent lighting as it tends to flicker
There are no set requirements for how to design a home for a child with autism, these are just tips and ideas that may help improve the quality of life for both you and your family.
Where to Learn More about Autism
ABA Pathways is committed to helping you and your family find a better, clearer path to your future. We provide optimal treatment programs to suit your family's unique needs. Through your knowledge of your child, and our expertise in applied behavioral analysis, we will find your child a program to foster growth, appropriate social behaviors, and communication skills.
If you have questions about your child's development or how you can change your living environment design to better suit your autistic child, contact one of our knowledgeable specialists for expert advice.