Every parent wants to keep their child safe and happy, especially at home, where comfort is a priority. When your child is on the autism spectrum, however, there are several considerations you have to make to ensure that your home is literally a safe place that allows your little one to grow and thrive.
There’s a lot to think about simply in terms of safety, but you’ll also need to make sure your house is a place where your child can learn and feel comfortable despite any sensory issues they may have, which could mean making changes to lighting or color schemes. Because every child is different--and because the autism spectrum is so wide and varied--there may be several small adjustments you can make to your home and routine in order to make your child happy.
Here are a few of the best ways to get started.
Safety is likely a priority for your family, and since many children who fall on the autism spectrum are prone to wandering, it’s a good idea to install secure locks on any doors that could lead to danger. This includes cabinets and drawers, too. You might also think about installing a motion sensor or alarm on your front and back doors, just in case curiosity gets the better of your child.
Atmosphere is everything
Many children on the autism spectrum are prone to sensory overload, which means they are extremely sensitive to light, sound, color, and texture. It can be difficult for them to be in a room that has too much of any one of those things, so making sure your home is a soothing environment is important. While every child is different, many parents have found success with neutral colors on bedroom walls, such as taupe or cream, and refraining from hanging a lot of artwork can be helpful as well. For some great tips on how to make sure your home is a soothing place for your child, check out this Redfin.com article.
Take a walk around your home and look at everything from your child’s level. Are there sharp edges on furniture, potted plants, exposed wires, or uncovered electrical outlets? Things you might not think about as hazardous can actually be more dangerous for a curious child on the spectrum who doesn’t understand consequences. Keep knives and other sharp objects out of reach or locked up, and consider placing protective foam around the corners of coffee tables and countertops. Not only will these steps help keep your child safe, they’ll give you peace of mind. For a list of helpful resources and what to look for when it comes to safety issues, read on here.
Even if you go to great lengths to make your home a comfortable haven for your child, there may still be days when he gets overwhelmed and has trouble processing things. For those times, it’s important to have an area for a “time-out” of sorts, where he can go and sit quietly or listen to soothing music. This should be in a room of the house that is far enough away from the bustle of daily activity that he won’t be bothered by it; if you know of some textures that bring comfort to your child, fill the room with them.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s best for your child, especially as he grows and his tolerance and preferences change. Try to be patient with yourself and roll with those changes as best you can, and reach out when you need help or support. Parenting is a big job, and few of us can do it alone.