Ways to Make Your Home Supportive for Kids With Special Needs
Autism not only affects one individual but an entire family in many different ways. When someone you care about is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it’s essential to turn your home into an autism-friendly space. Designing a home to be more compatible starts by accommodating specific interests taking into account safety and sensory needs.
Here are some tips making your home more comfortable for someone on the spectrum:
1. Work Space
One of the characteristics of autism is a tendency to focus on certain topics or have special interests. Temple Grandin advises caregivers and parents in her books The Way I See It and Thinking in Pictures to develop these interests. Use it to direct people with autism toward career and academic goals. Set up a small part of your house to help in the pursuit of these particular interests.
2. Bathroom Designs
Learning a bathroom routine can take a long time for many children with autism to master. It’s important to remember kids with ASD are all very different, making it vital to organize a bathroom space to accommodate a child’s specific needs.
First off, it’s vital to keep your child safe. Install some grab bars to support his/her bending and standing activities, and a non-slip mat works perfectly for stability as well as decrease the excess water that may lead to an injury or an accident. Always consider the layout and limitations of your bathroom for easy access to storage space and be sure to create a comfortable, calming experience.
One of the common challenges for people with autism, especially children, is an aversion to toilet paper. A bidet seat can be a lifesaver for parents with its many automatic features that work to accommodate the unique needs of a child. Its primary purpose is to wash and clean the genitals and anus area hands-free.
There are many types of bidets—the traditional style, spray-type, and smart bidet. A traditional bidet looks like a sink, attached to a toilet, and a bidet sprayer is similar to a kitchen sink sprayer. It is fun to use and comes handy, quite comfortable. Smart bidets feature a remote control and side panel bidets. The first one is controlled by a remote; the user can adjust the temperature and the intensity of water that comes out of it. The second one is similar to the first, but instead of remote, it is controlled by a side panel. These smart bidets are most useful for kids with special needs.
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3. Sensory Environment
Creating a visual environment provides opportunities for stimulation, movement, and the lack of it.
Each person has a different preference for tolerance levels and sensory needs. For attention and mood, it is better to use natural and soft lighting compared to artificial light. To help with the absorption and softening of sounds, choose quilts for the walls and some pillows on the soft furniture. Time and time again, research has revealed that colors associate with different moods. Take, for example, calmness and creativity can be affected by shades of blue.
Fill one designated room with bright colors and appliances such as a stereo and television for family bonding and activities. In contrast, choose a different area for quiet activities such as puzzles and books and design it with soft textures, soft colors and blank walls.
The key to an autistic lifestyle includes proprioceptive and vestibular input as well as exercise. Make sure to include a space for such. You can store a balanced board and a mini-trampoline in a closet to save some space and only bring out when it is necessary.
4. Space for Life Skills
At least 95% of individuals diagnosed with autism are not able to live independently as adults according to many studies in UK, Sweden, Ireland, and the USA. These include people who received early intervention and those with high intelligence.
To help your child live independently in the future, you need to provide life skills as early as a possible and continue towards adulthood. You can label closets, shelves, and cupboards to help your child communicate properly, do laundry, wash the dishes, and clean up.
This article was featured in Issue 76 – Raising A Child with Autism