I’d like to introduce you to my guest, Jenny Wise. Jenny home schools her four children, one of whom is autistic. When her oldest was four years old, she and her husband decided to home educate. I’m sharing her guest post in the hopes of raising awareness and acceptance during Autism Acceptance Month.
You may be wondering what this has to do with you? Probably you know someone who is on the spectrum, and if not, you may in the future. Also you may wonder, as my audience, how I became interested in this. Did you know color therapy works for everyone? You don’t know what you don’t know. I feel it’s important to educate ourselves whenever possible. I hope you will take a moment to read Jenny’s post. Thank you, Julia.
6 Steps to Creating the Ideal Bedroom for a Child with Autism
Many children on the autism spectrum experience stimuli in their environments much differently than those who are not on the spectrum. Their sensory sensitivity can be uncomfortable, painful, or even debilitating. Since you may not be able to control every environment your child enters, it’s critical that you help manage their sensory sensitivity in the places you can. A good place to start is their bedroom, which should be a safe haven for them to learn, play, and get a good night’s sleep. Here are six steps to creating the ideal bedroom for a child with autism.
Start with the Air
This first step is important for anyone’s bedroom, but it often goes unaddressed because many people are unaware of the indoor pollution in their home. However, the air inside our homes is more prone to harmful pollutants and contaminants than the air outside. It goes without saying that you want the air in your child’s bedroom to be as clean as possible. The easiest ways to improve air quality are purchasing a good air purifier and regularly changing out your HVAC air filters. You can find any size of filter online, and you can even sign up for a subscription service so that you don’t have to remember to order a filter every 90 days.
Minimize the Noise
Some sounds that seem ordinary to someone without autism (e.g., nearby traffic, dogs barking in the neighborhood, a TV in the living room) can actually aggravate a child on the spectrum. It’s important that everyone in the household considers this during their daily and nightly routines. Also, adding acoustic paneling to your child’s bedroom walls can significantly muffle outside noise and create a peaceful atmosphere. Furthermore, adding carpet, rugs, blankets, and pillows can also help absorb sound.
Subdue the Lighting
Lighting is one of the most common irritants to a child with autism. Generally speaking, fluorescent lighting is the worst kind to have in your child’s environment, as their sensory sensitivity often means that they can perceive the fractional flickering and low-level buzz in fluorescent light bulbs that go unnoticed by others. Opt for softer lighting in their bedroom, such as lamps with full-spectrum lighting or another kind of soft light bulbs.
Control the Colors
Colors also matter. If your child has sensory sensitivity, bold and vibrant colors like red and orange are probably not the best option for their bedroom walls. Instead, go with more neutral tones (e.g., gray, beige, tan) that will promote rest. Also, consider using calming shades of blue and green, both of which can also be good options.
Besides the whites and grays, some additional calming colors from the Wise Owl Paint line would be London, Glacial, Vintage Duck, Higgins Lake, and Icelandic Mist.
Soften the Furniture
Another thing to keep in mind when designing a bedroom for a child on the spectrum is furniture. It’s generally best to make sure there aren’t any hard or sharp edges exposed. Going with pieces that have round edges are ideal, but you can also add padding to the corners if necessary. Also, it can be helpful to have their mattress sit on a boxspring with no frame. To prevent pieces of furniture from tipping over, think about fastening them to the wall.
Bring the Order
Last but not least, create a sense of order in the bedroom. Consider changing the layout of the bedroom to where all the furniture is against the wall, leaving space in the middle of the room for your child to play. Cut down on clutter by adding cubbies with storage bins and/or low shelving to keep items like bedding and toys. Each of these tips can be pleasing to a child who cherishes a visually organized environment.
A comfortable and safe bedroom is essential for children on the autism spectrum. So, begin by ensuring the air in your home is clean, and cut down on extraneous noise in your child’s bedroom. Opt for soft lighting, soothing colors, and furniture with soft edges. Finally, bring order to the bedroom with a spacious layout and organization. Most importantly, since each child on the spectrum has unique needs, it’s essential to consider your child’s own preferences and experiences when you make changes.
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