Autism is a disability that affects how people interact with the world and other people. According to the National Autistic Society, more than 1% of people have autism. Anyone can be autistic and experience it more or less severely.
One attribute that many autistic people share is an over- or under-sensitivity to light, sound, colour, touch and temperature. Low and high sensory stimulation can sometimes cause austistic people stress or panic. This is particularly true for children with autism.
Sensory sensitivity is a reason why many people who have or know autistic children choose to make special adjustments to their home. Lots of these are easy to do and can help children deal with sensory imbalance. If you have or know any children with autism, read on to find out 4 ways to make your home autism-friendly.
1. Create soft lighting and acoustics
One thing that you can do to adjust your home is change your lighting. If you have strong, bright lighting, change it to soft and natural light. This is more likely to create a relaxed and enjoyable environment for children with autism.
It is also worth paying attention to your home’s acoustics. Try adjusting echoey areas by adding soft furniture, carpets, rugs and curtains. These will absorb and soften noises and make these spaces more comfortable places for autistic children to be.
2. Assign rooms for specific activities
Another way to adjust your home for autistic children is to assign rooms for specific activities. Some children with autism can find it difficult to eat and sleep, which can be upsetting for both them and their carers. Assigning specific rooms for these activities will help them prepare for and settle into the activity.
For example, if you tend to eat in the dining room, make this the only room that you eat in and put equipment for other activities in different rooms. Doing this will help children to concentrate on eating and make it less likely that they get distracted.
You can do this in other rooms of your home too. Ensure that bedrooms are only for sleeping in and that study space is where children do calm, focused activities. You can assign a fun space too, where children know that they can enjoy fun, energetic activities.
3. Colour-code your rooms
Colour is another thing that autistic children can be sensitive to. Certain studies claim that colour and mood are closely related and this connection can be hugely relevant for autistic children.
So if you can, try to connect your room colour scheme with the activity that usually occurs there. Paint children’s bedrooms dark colours to lower light reflection and encourage sleep. Use bright colours in fun activity areas and gentle, cool colours in study areas. Blue is an especially good choice as it’s recently been claimed to be soothing and promote creativity.
4. Include sensory integration tools
Sensory integration tools can be hugely helpful for children with autism. These are generally household items that can offer children soothing sensory stimulation. They are particularly helpful for autistic children who need to self-calm after experiencing sensory overload.
There are many places in your home where you can add some sensory tools. Place a massage jet in your bath and big cushions and heavy blankets in bedrooms and relaxing spaces. Buy a rocking chair or two or a swing if you’re feeling adventurous. Other excellent tools include slides, climbing frames and mini-trampolines.
So if you want to change your home into a more enjoyable space for autistic children to be, there are lots of ways to do it. Several little adjustments could make a big difference and turn your home into a more enjoyable environment for any small autistic visitors or residents and everybody else.