As a parent, it’s natural to look for the best possible ways to help your youngster reach her full potential. A well-thought-out bedroom can make a big difference for children on the autism spectrum, so taking a hard look at the space is crucial. Here are some ideas for creating an environment which will help your child thrive.
Why Environment Weighs In
While science is still working toward determining the root cause of autism, some professionals believe the underlying force relates to sensory integration. It appears children with autism could have one or more senses which aren’t functioning properly. In essence, a sense is either overly reactive or under reactive, and as a result, a child organizes the information she is receiving differently from how someone without autism would interpret it. With that in mind, it’s important to be thoughtful when considering the bedroom environment, and contemplate how the senses will be affected by your choices.
Start With A Peaceful Palette
Since children with autism can struggle with what their senses are trying to interpret, a gentle palette is ideal for bedrooms. When it comes to choosing colors, Angie’s List suggests peaceful wall colors for a relaxing sleep space. For instance, soft blues feel reflective, like the sky and ocean, and pale earth tones can be gently grounding. Ask your youngster what colors she is drawn to, and aim for a shade she finds soothing. If she gravitates toward something bright, you might try a pastel version, like peach instead of paprika. Bear in mind one of the nice things about painting is it’s inexpensive and easy to do, so if you test drive something and it doesn’t work as well as expected, it’s reasonable to switch to another option.
Light Up Her Life
When creating an ideal space for a child with autism, it’s important to take lighting into account. You might be surprised at how dramatically lighting can influence someone with autism. For instance, the hum and flicker of a fluorescent bulb might be annoying to someone without autism, but a child with autism could be completely overwhelmed by it. Try to use as much natural light in the bedroom as possible, and replace any fluorescent bulbs with incandescent options.
Capitalize On Cues
If a space has a lot going on, someone with sensory concerns can feel especially agitated. In fact, too much sensory input can be distracting and confusing. With that in mind, Eileen Parker recommends doing some decluttering. Aim for an organized space in the bedroom, with a simple, pared-down feel. Also, look for ways to help your child navigate the space. For example, some research indicates children with autism are oftentimes visual learners. If your youngster especially hones in on visual cues, you can use that to her advantage. You can create a visual schedule using icons to help her with planning her daily routine, and embrace an organizational system your child can adhere to, such as using bins with picture labels. To help your child keep track of where things go, consider using printable labels, which are available for everything from T-shirts to toy trains.
Creating an area for sensory input can be a significant perk for a child on the autism spectrum. Love to Know points out it’s important to think about what your child’s specific needs are. For example, a swing can help by adding a place for productive sensory input, although some kids will like the flexibility of a bolster swing. A cuddle swing is a boon to children who like deep pressure as well as vestibular stimulation. You can easily make a homemade cuddle swing, even if you aren’t a seamstress.
Raising a child with autism has unique challenges. Thankfully, there are many ways to create an ideal environment to help your child blossom. Consider your youngster’s unique qualities, and tailor the space to her needs.
Jenny Wise enjoys providing advice to parents who are, like her, journeying with a child in the autism spectrum. SpecialHomeEducator.com, provides helpful homeschooling and special needs care tips and resources.