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Living With Autism: Home Features That Can Help Your Child Thrive

by Lin Buckner

Photo by Pexels

Every child with autism is different. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all guide to the right features and amenities you should have in your home. However, I would suggest these simple, affordable ideas that can help your child on the autism spectrum (or with ADHD or sensory sensitivities) thrive.

Paint with soothing colors

Paint is an affordable way to update a room. For a relaxing, comfortable bedroom, use paint in pale blues, soft greens, and other soothing colors. Autism Housing Network suggests colors from this ASD Friendly Palette from the "Designing Environments for Children and Adults with ASD" presentation by Christopher Beaver.

Minimize distractions to improve sleep quality

According to Autism Speaks, sleep problems affect as many as 80 percent of children with autism spectrum disorder. To improve your child's sleep quality, keep their bedroom cool and comfortable, and establish a regular bedtime routine. For example, a bath followed by storytime, followed by 10 minutes of soothing music, and then lights out. On the weekend, you should keep your child's bedtime and waking time the same as during the week.

Keep the bedroom distraction-free - no computers, video games, or televisions. Avoid caffeine consumption in the evening as well as screen time. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the blue light that TVs, computers and handheld devices emit can have a significant effect on the body's ability to produce melatonin, which can cause alertness that throws off one's internal clock, thus making it harder to fall asleep.

Reduce clutter throughout the house

Too much clutter can cause anyone to feel stressed out and anxious. These feelings can be even worse for children with ADHD or ASD. Have plenty of available storage containers, shelving, and organization bins around the house to help your family keep your home organized and clutter-free as possible.

Create a safe space

When a kid with autism gets overstimulated, they tend to act out in one way or another. Therefore, you should allow them to have a safe space in your home where they can chill out and decompress. Don't think of this as a "timeout" place, but rather a dedicated spot where they can get away from triggering stimuli and have a few moments of quiet to themselves. You don't need a big room but rather a small comfy nook with plenty of pillows, soft blankets, and some of their favorite toys.

Depending on your child's sensory needs and challenges, you might want to set-up an indoor sensory area. For example, consider converting your garage into a living/play space that includes a sofa, swing, mini trampolines, crash pads, and other sensory items. The eSpecial Needs Blog offers low-cost ideas for creating a sensory room, including using an inflatable pool for a ball pit, creating your own sensory tables, and repurposing Christmas lights for colorful lighting.

Keep safety in mind throughout your house

Don't forget about safety precautions. To protect your child, add bumpers to sharp edges of tables, secure furnishings to walls, lock away medications, cleaning supplies, and other poisons, and cover swimming pools. In addition to these tips, Applied Behavior Analysis offers many other suggestions on how to create a safer home environment, depending on your child's cognitive abilities and behaviors.

Don't bust your budget

No matter what changes you make to outfit the different areas of your home, it's obvious you don't need to spend a small fortune. Search online for promo codes, cash back offers and other deals through sites like Rakuten to maximize your savings. Whether you are looking for comfy furniture, blackout curtains, special decor, or anything else that can improve your child's comfort and quality of life, it's easy to get the best bang for your buck.

Parenting a child with special needs can be challenging at times. But by making changes to your home, you can make your child more comfortable and happy as you strive to meet their needs now and for years to come.

This article was written by Lin Buckner who is a freelance writer. We thank Lin for this work.

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