Inclusive Interior Design For Children On The Spectrum
While many people think about autism as something that only affects children in social settings, it is a lifelong disorder that can have an impact at home as well. Families looking to design a living space for a child on the spectrum should pay careful attention to everything within the home, including lighting, safety, and space. Here are a few tips to help parents of children who have been recently diagnosed create a harmonious environment at home.
Understand the need for balance.
As Beyond Accessibility explains, balance is the key when creating a home for someone on the spectrum. Children with ASD are prone to unexpected behaviors, outbursts, and making poor decisions with regards to their well-being. With that in mind, the first area where this is evident is the need to balance safety and freedom.
One way to set your mind at ease is to focus on childproofing. This might include adding door and window alarms, electronic equipment guards, toilet lid locks, pool alarms, and a fire escape ladder. If you aren’t sure exactly how to make your home safe, you can hire a childproofing advisory service. In Philadelphia, you can expect to pay anywhere from $282 to $866 for this, according to HomeAdvisor.
Once you are comfortable with the safety of your property, look at your child’s freedom. Make sure that they have plenty of room throughout the house to walk around unobstructed. Consider the flow of the home. This is how it transitions from one space to the next. If you have an open concept, for example, try not to block each room off, because this visual clutter can make it frustrating for a child with autism to maneuver throughout the home.
Get to know your child’s sensory aversions.
Many children on the autism spectrum have sensory aversions. They might shy away from warm or cool lighting or get extremely agitated and uncomfortable when touching certain types of material. This can cause a sensory overload, which Healthline explains happens when the brain can’t keep up with the information being thrown at it. Pay attention to your child’s hypersensitivities.
In addition to lighting, auditory features of your home should fit within your child’s tolerance levels. Reduce noise pollution by putting their bedroom as far away from common areas as possible. It might also help to soundproof the room and ensure they have a special area they can go to “hide,” such as under a loft bed, when they are overwhelmed by their surroundings.
Stick with durable materials.
Austin John Jones, a writer for The Art of Autism and a man on the spectrum, explains that change can be exponentially difficult for someone with autism. And while children must learn to adapt to some changes, you can reduce turmoil in their lives by simply designing your space with durable materials that do not have to be swapped out frequently.
This applies especially to their favorite pieces. For instance, many children on the spectrum find comfort in things like bean bag chairs. Unfortunately, these are often cheap and break easily, resulting in the need to replace with something new. Do your research before buying furniture or bedding, and make sure that what your child loves today will not have to be taken away tomorrow. Note better bean bags can be bought for $75 and up.
When you’re trying to create a space that works for everyone in your family, it’s going to take a bit of work. But, it is possible to create a safe and comforting environment for children on the autism spectrum. It starts with knowing how to balance safety and freedom. The decisions you make now can go a long way toward helping your child remain calm and at ease at home.
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Written by Amanda Henderson ⎸firstname.lastname@example.org