Children with autism require a special home environment to remain calm and less agitated. However, because many autistic children do not communicate well, understanding their needs is not always easy. Here are some changes that can help children with autism feel safe and comfortable at home.
Pay Attention to Sounds – Children with autism are more attune to sounds that others may not even notice. Traffic, wind whistling through a window and even music in the background or the sound of the dishwasher running. Whenever possible, avoid those sounds that agitate the child. When not possible to avoid a sound, provide headphones to help cancel the noise.
Reduce Visual Stimulation – Another way children with autism can become overwhelmed is through visual stimulation, so reduce the amount of clutter in the home. A very busy environment is difficult for the autistic child, so keep wall decor and other clutter in the home at a minimum.
Change the Lighting – Fluorescent lighting pulsates, and this can tire a child with autism quickly. Consider investing in lights with high-speed ballasts if you must use fluorescent lighting, or choose incandescent lighting when possible. Some children seem to do fine with CFL bulbs when traditional fluorescent lighting does not work.
Give Attention to Color – Some autistic children are drawn to a specific color, while being repelled by another. If you notice that your child has an aversion to a particular color, try to avoid it in your home. Use favorite colors in the areas where you want your child to feel safe and comfortable.
Remove Temptations – When you have a child with autism, you are going to need to learn to limit the times you have to tell your child “no.” Over time, your autistic child is going to become immune to your “no” reaction. So, when it comes to valuables and dangerous items, rather than trying to keep our child away from them, control access by packing them away or putting them in high cabinets. Keep those things that are easily accessible to items that it’s safe for your child to explore.
Build a Playroom – Therapies are important to a child with autism, so consider building a playroom to do your work with your child. The goal of this room is to create an environment where it’s easy for your child to focus on you and the activities you are introducing.
Because the playroom is such an important part of your home when you have a child with autism, it may require some home modifications. If you are building a new playroom, keep these considerations in mind:
Create an area about three meters by three meters at a minimum. Keep in mind that a large room can distract your child from the focus you want.
Remove as many visible distractions as possible. Toys even should be up and out of sight so your child can focus on only those activities you are introducing.
Have a table and chair that can adjust to your child’s changing height.
Cover windows with a covering that allows light through but does not allow visual stimuli through. Make sure non-natural light is light your autistic child is comfortable with.
Consider building the playroom close to a bathroom, or adding a bathroom.
Consider a padded floor for your child’s safety and your comfort, as many activities will be done on the floor.
If you will be using a therapist in your home, consider a one-way mirror or closed circuit television to allow you monitor what your child and the therapist are doing.