Many of you know that we design for so many families and no 2 families are the same when it comes to their needs. What many of you may not know is that recently our son was being tested for markers of autism. This is when we started thinking that maybe there was more we could do at home regarding his surroundings that would help him. So we partnered with Jenny Wise to provide you with ways of designing the perfect bedroom for you child with autism.
Children on the spectrum differ from their non-ASD peers in many ways. Often, these differences mean making changes at home to accommodate their needs. Whereas a non-ASD child might be just fine in a toy-cluttered, poster-filled bedroom, a child with even mild autism will need a calmer space to relax. Keep reading for a few ways to outfit your child’s bedroom with their best interests in mind.
1. A Clean Slate
Most children’s rooms feature walls slathered in bright colors and quirky cartoon characters. But a rainbow of hues may not be the best bet for a child who experiences color with intensity. Consider keeping things calm with muted blues and greens and removing artwork that may disrupt your child’s visual field.
2. Clear the Air
One of the best things you can do for your home and family as a whole is to keep the air clean and clear. Children on the spectrum may respond to airborne particles more than the rest of the family and may have a more profound response to the smell of cigarette smoke, pet dander, mold spores, and other airborne allergens. One way to remove allergens in your home is to use quality air filters and to routinely replace them.
3. Cozy and Comfy
Children with autism may sleep better under a weighted blanket on a mattress that conforms to their body. This feeling of comfort can provide a protective barrier against temperature fluctuations and other unpleasant skin sensations. The Strategist, a leg of NY Mag, explains that a weighted blanket (these can be purchased online for under $50) is an excellent room addition for people suffering with anxiety or who simply want enhanced sleep quality. SensaCalm explains that using a weighted blanket mimics deep-touch pressure stimulation, which is a common form of therapy for children on the autism spectrum.
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4. Safety First
According to AutismSpeaks.org, one of the primary symptoms of autism is restricted and/or repetitive behaviors. This includes repetitive body movements such as running back and forth, rocking, head banging, spinning and staring at lights and/or moving objects. With this in mind, take the time to ensure that the furnishings and belongings in your child’s bedroom are safe for his or her specific behaviors. For example, if you have a child who hits his head against the wall, you might add padding along the perimeter of the room. A child who runs back and forth may be better off with a mattress on the floor to avoid hitting their shins on a bed frame.
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5. Sensational Sensory Spaces
Children with autism often need a specific visual cue for which activity is available and appropriate for each space. Segment your child’s bedroom with an area specific for reading, sleeping, and for sensory activities. Install a sensory swing, which Today’s Parent explains is an enclosed area where children on the spectrum can seek refuge from stimulation. The swings are appropriate for children ages 3 and up. A sensory input area might include a soft beanbag chair or floor tiles. Fun and Function, a website dedicated to autism-friendly products, also recommends using aromatherapy and an LED projector in an ASD child’s bedroom.
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A common issue among children with autism is anxiety stemming from clutter and excess. Ensure your child’s bedroom is easily organized after a day of play. Autism Parenting Magazine reports that organization systems must be logical and that space organization equals sensory balance. Take your decluttering efforts outside your child’s bedroom to your entire home. Make sure to give you home a deep cleaning as well. In the Eden Prairie area, you’ll likely be charged $112 – $224 for these services.
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Remember that your autistic child can’t handle the same amount of information being thrown at them as other children. Keep their bedroom clean, organized, and calm and your child will experience better sleep and have a place of respite to call his own.