Home is where the heart is. In all the madness and sadness of the world, at the end of the day, this is our haven. But for someone on the autism spectrum, the chaos is much more intense. Maintaining a home environment for an autistic child is not so easy.
Fortunately, doing some inexpensive things can make your home cozy for family members. You can not always maintain peace in your home. But you can take some little steps to transform the house into a safe place for the autistic child.
Problems of creating an autism-friendly home
The life of an autistic person is full of difficulties. Home is where autistic people spend most of their time. So making the home a sanctuary place for an autistic person is important.
But, you need to face problems to create an autism-friendly house. Here are some of the problems you may face-
- Parents or siblings also have some special needs. They have friends. They need to make social interactions. Young children like to enjoy themselves sometimes, eat new foods, make some noise, etc. A parent or sibling might want to redecorate the house. Family issues or social situations may arise sometimes.
- Most of the time, children with autism get treatment at home. Most occupational therapists suggest home-based treatment, which means that after hours-long occupational therapy sessions at school, children will come back home to another treatment session. This could be irritating.
- Family life does not always go as planned. You can’t always keep calm in the house. Sometimes, emergency situations may arise. One of the family members may get sick, or grandparents may get admitted to hospitals. A situation may change sometimes. Such challenging behavior is not good news to an autistic child.
Here’s how you can make the best home environment for Autistic Child
We can’t possibly relate to them. Environmental factors play a vital role in their development. Therefore, special attention needs to be paid to give them this sense of safety. It is better to take steps early to make sure your house is a harmless place instead of saying do not do this or that as your child may get hurt.
So, it is better to childproof your house instead of restricting your child. Childproofing staircases, electrical boards, and gateways by using locks on the cabinets will be a wise move.
Kids with autism can hurt themselves when they are upset by throwing things, eating dodgy items off surfaces, chewing on random household tools and wires, flushing necessary things down and climbing out of the window.
Children with autism spectrum disorder don’t understand the risks or the ramifications of these actions. So, modifying and creating a safer home is a better choice. Let us teach you how to make your home autism friendly.
Arrange the Furniture Appropriately to Avoid Accidents
It’s important to consider where you place your furniture. Placement is a major activity both for keeping a house safe and for making accident-proof. Arrange the house in a way that makes sense, and keep your autistic child in mind while doing so.
Consider whether your child prefers to stay seated instead of roaming around, and make sure that you have the appropriate chairs and tabletops. Don’t clutter your house. Arrange furniture so that there is space to roam around. Rooms filled with furniture feel a bit suffocating and congested. Also, less furniture means fewer accidents.
Always remember to clean the furniture surfaces regularly. Keep hazardous detergents, chemicals, cleaning supplies, pesticides, medications, etc., in a safe place.
A room without sensory issues is safer and more comfortable for individuals with ASD. Invest in these types of furniture.
Lock Hazardous Items Away
For an indiviual with autism spectrum disorder, it is hard to differentiate between cleaning fluids and juice or soft drinks. So, they might end up drinking harmful substances without realizing it. You should lock these items in a cabinet or drawer.
It is normal for an individual with an autism spectrum disorder to get confused with harmful tools and substances, so keep lighters, sharp tools (Scissors, Clippers, Kimball/Tag guns, knives, Drill hole spikes, Notch punchers, Tweezers, Cutting pins, etc.), medicines and other harmful components on a high shelf or rack. They might mix up pills with candies, so always keep your pills in a tight box that locks. Keep the phone number of poison control in easy reach.
Many children with autism like to throw things away and cut clothing or curtains. Always keep your child under constant supervision and lock your valuables away.
Establish a cool-down room
Most of us have a room in our house that we do not use regularly. If you also have such a room, try transforming it into a cool-down room for your autistic child. This room can be very beneficial to a child who is aggressive.
How can a room help your child from being aggressive? When they feel that they are about to lose their temper and calmness, they will run back to that room. This will keep them relaxed.
Let us tell you how to design a room for an autistic child. You need to redecorate the room minimally. Remove any sharp and hard objects. Do not keep any furniture near the window as they might climb out. You can put calming items and sensory objects in that room. You can play some relaxing music also.
Create a Suitable Workstation and Timetable
Accomodation for a child with autism is significant. Your beloved child with autism requires a space to work productively. Whether it is school work or therapeutic work, they need personal space.
To create an autism friendly house, redecorate the study area and the bedroom area. Make a wide workstation. Remove anything that will frustrate them. Create a suitable sitting area as per your child’s choice. A wrap-around chair or an armed chair will make them feel safe and secure.
If your child likes to sit on the floor while doing homework, install padding. This will make them comfortable and will not hurt the joints. They can enjoy their playtime in this way.
Your child with autism will perform the best under a structured routine. Try to set up routines with school time, bedtime, treatment, time for meals, etc.
Do not change the routine unless there’s a need for that. Try to make your children prepared for sudden disruptions to their schedules. That is how you can ensure the best environment for an autistic child.
Praise Good Behavior
Children with autism will love positive reinforcement. Give them a challenge. Admire them when they try to accomplish something. Motivate them to learn new skills. Always mention the behavior for which you are praising them. Let them know that you appreciate their work and positive behavior. You can also reward them with a new toy or buy a sticker.
Fix a Playtime
Children love to play. Your child with autism is still a child. Treatment and struggles will make your child depressed. They also need to enjoy their lives. So you should schedule a time to play with your child.
Select the time when they are most active. Find out what makes your child happy, what makes them laugh, or what they enjoy. Let them be playful. You will find a positive outcome by letting your child spend some unpressured time. You will also enjoy their company. Life should not feel like work and therapy.
Label Every Item
Place labels on every container, drawer, cabinet, closet, bin, etc. Mark them and teach your children about the good signs and bad signs. Labelling everything will help children with ASD to understand and have an idea about household products and rooms much better.
A good labeled environment may help them to understand the usage and purpose of these products. For example, put a picture of cooking on a salt jar so that they know what it is used for.
Putting labels on drawers will help your child to know which clothes belong where and even they might help you put the right stuff in the right places. Putting visual labels (symbols, photos, words, textures) on boxes will help the child to identify what goes where.
Make Electrical Outlets and Appliances Safe
Keep your child safe from electrical appliances by covering the electric outlets or removing them. Attaching plastic door knob covers will help to minimize the risks.
The most crucial part you need to focus on is concealing the wires. Kids with ASD are fascinated with chewing wires. You can use STOP signs on electrical outlets to keep your children away.
Stress can have a negative effect on you and your child with autism. Your child with autism is more receptive than he looks. Autistic children will tell easily if someone is stressed around them. This can cause discomfort, increase in self-stimulation, sensory processing issues, and emotional outbursts. Make sure you are always stress-free around your autistic child. This will calm the environment of your house.
Autistic children can sense discomfort too. This will give birth to a feeling of anxiety. Then your child will spend more time hiding in a small place, finding peace.
This will ruin their social skills by creating pervasive developmental disorder or Asperger. This will also cause developmental disabilities. Try to establish a happy and comfortable environment for your autistic child. Never show emotions that can create discomfort in your house. That is how you can create a home environment for an autistic child.
Teach Your Child Not to Trust Strangers
At some point, your child will start responding to a knock at the door. Early intervention is needed for this problem. Research shows that children with autism spectrum disorder are very trusting. Autistic kids cannot differentiate between trustworthy and untrustworthy people.
They cannot read facial expressions. Although neurotypical children possess the innate prowess of determining the motives of people just by taking a look at their faces, those on the spectrum are genuinely unable to do so.
So, you should teach your child not to trust strangers.
- What is the best learning environment for a child with autism?
You need to create a safe, calm, relaxing place for your autistic child to learn. To create the best learning environment for a child, you need to do the following-
- Sensory overload is not good for an autistic child. Avoid doing unexpected things that create distractions.
- Be more predictable
- Treat the autistic students as individuals
- Help them to learn social skills and behavioral skills
- Use concrete language
- Visualize things
- Avoid loud noises
- Can an autistic child be homeschooled?
Autistic children can not cope with a public school. Autism acceptance is an issue. There is a huge possibility that your autistic child will succeed in a homeschool. But you can not guarantee their success.
Homeschooling might not help if you do not give effort. As a parent, you need to do a lot for the sake of your autistic child. Parents need to motivate them and ensure their progress. If you do not want intellectual disability to happen to your child, put in the effort.
- What are the autism-friendly environments checklist?
There are a few significant requirements to an autism-friendly environment. These are-
- Enhanced awareness
- Communication system
- Core awareness
- Flexibility of thought
- Theories of mind
- What is the relation between autism and small spaces?
Autistic individuals love small spaces. This makes them feel secure and calm. Try creating a small place for your autistic child. It is easy to control the sensory input level in such a room. A big box, den, cupboard, or drawer will do the trick. Select a place that is dark and quiet.
Hopefully, you have learned how to create the best home environment for an autistic child. From the outside, your house may look like your average house. But from the inside, your house is special because of the autism-friendly house design.
As a parent with autistic children, you need to maintain these above-mentioned safety precautions to keep their families safe. Connect with an autism society to learn about other people’s struggles. Good luck!