Written by: Paige Johnson, learnfit.org
Every parent wants what’s best for their children. As a parent of an autistic child, you are certainly no different. Having a child with autism presents a set of unique challenges for parents to figure out. Your latest puzzle is your home interior, and now you want to make a few changes to give your child the best home experience they could ever wish for. While no two children on the autism spectrum are alike, there are a few known ways to make your home more autism friendly. Whether you are starting from scratch with a new home or updating your current one, here are three key essentials every parent should know when designing their home.
Children with autism perceive color more intensely, and the colors you choose to decorate your home will have a much greater impact on your autistic child. When deciding how to decorate each room, you will want to consider how a color will be perceived by your autistic child. The warmer the color, the more stimulating it will be for your child, and can cause increased heart rate, appetite, or even aggression. You will want to avoid intense red colors for your walls and furniture, and most likely stick to more neutral colors for your home to have a calming effect. When you design your home, you will want to consider varying your colors to match the purpose of the room. Bedrooms should have calming restful color scheme of greens and blues, while you might want your kitchen a shade of white, with neutral orange to inject a little energy and appetite. Mixing up colors in your room’s scheme is okay, so long as the colors work well together, but you will want to avoid any bright, busy, and contrasting patterns at all cost. This could overstimulate your child’s sensory functions and possibly trigger an episode.
Much like color, how you choose to light your home will have a huge impact on your autistic child’s sensory experience. The general consensus in the autism community is that fluorescent lighting should be avoided. The bright, sterile lighting can put your child on edge, and disorient them, leading to headaches, and migraines. A great idea is to use lighting that has a dimmer switch, that way you can gradually adjust the level of light in each room of your home based on your child’s needs. For your child’s bedroom, you might want to consider alternative lighting sources, such as Christmas lights, or a projector, to give them a positive sensory experience that won’t overwhelm them. Natural light in your home can be a great way to add energy to your home, but you will want to consider using blackout curtains to draw, if your child has a sensory overload from shadows or glares.
Other than creating a positive sensory environment for your child, you will undoubtedly want to create a safe environment as well. There are several steps you can take to ensure that your child remains safe at your home. Some basics include locking away any and all hazardous materials out of reach of your child, including: cleaners, medicine, lighters, and scissors. Next you will want to protect your child from electrical outlets, and wires. Use plastic outlet caps and hide your wiring to reduce the risk of electric shock. How to best guard your child at home will depend mostly on the unique aspects of your child’s autism. Many children with autism enjoy climbing whenever they can, so you might consider moving furniture so that you child cannot climb where it is unsafe to do so. You can even take it a step further and install railing and other wall fixtures that allow your child to climb in a safe environment. In other cases, children with autism might wander or leave the home unexpectedly, and unannounced. If you experience this with your child, you might want to install locks on the doors, or alarm systems that let you know when someone is exiting your home.
You love your child and want to do everything you can to make sure your home is a safe and comfortable place for them. Keeping these keys in mind will help you find the perfect way to design your home so that everyone is happy, especially your child.
Paige is a fitness nerd and shares her insights on LearnFit.org.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in articles published on NSPNsights are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of National Safe Place Network.