Children on the autism spectrum flourish under different circumstances than their peers. This is why it is important for parents to create a bedroom environment that encourages them to do so while making them feel safe, comfortable, and happy. The changes don’t have to be huge or difficult to implement: all that it takes is a bit of extra thought and consideration when it comes to designing a bedroom space that is perfect for them. Here, Funtastic Learning Toys shares the following tips and resources to help you create an awesome bedroom for your child.
Children with autism tend to have issues with sensory processing, which can lead them to become over- or under-sensitive to certain sensory inputs. When creating a sensory bedroom, your goal should be to maximize the sensations they enjoy and minimize the ones that cause them stress and discomfort. This can be a process of trial and error, so it is a good idea to keep notes as you discover triggers. Consider the following modifications:
- Smell – If your child is overly sensitive to smells, avoid using scented cleaning products. If someone in your house smokes, ask them to smoke outside but you should still get a MERV 11 air filter to help remove smoke particles and other airborne irritants.
- Sound – If triggering sounds can be heard from the streets, invest in some noise-reducing curtains. Some children with autism respond well to white noise or soothing music to help them relax, while others prefer complete silence.
- Sight – People with autism tend to perceive the flickering and noise made by fluorescent lights more, and this can be stressful. Bright lighting can also overwhelm the senses with too much information. Use dim incandescent lighting for nighttime, ensuring they have access to a small bright light for reading.
- Touch – Avoid rough textures and opt for softer materials on their bed, chair and floor. If you have an old armchair that can be repurposed but needs a softer fabric, let your child choose a fabric that feels good, and then work with a reputable furniture reupholstery shop to have the armchair recovered and refreshed.
- Play – Invest in some new toys that are sensory-friendly and that have lasting power. Sites like Funtastic Learning Toys offer an array of toys specially designed for children with ASD. From sensory discs to sensory blocks to an ooze tube, meteor ball, and more.
Bed and Bedding
According to Scientific American, about half of all children on the spectrum struggle with sleep. However, parents can employ a variety of techniques and devices to help their child rest during the night. For example, children with autism tend to fidget a lot, which can make it difficult for them to fall asleep. A weighted blanket provides a comforting sensation of pressure that reduces movement and makes the child feel safe, both of which can do wonders for sleep. Also, when shopping for a bed, consider styles with soft headboards to ensure safety and comfort.
One of the common characteristics of autism is being easily overwhelmed and stressed by a chaotic, disorganized environment. A child with autism will benefit from a room that does not have clutter and where everything has a clearly defined place. There are a few easy ways to achieve this:
- Don’t buy or keep unnecessary or unused toys, and focus on the ones that your child loves and plays with often
- Create labels to clearly define where everything goes
- Use boxes and chests to keep toys and playthings out of sight when they are not being used
- Keep art supplies neatly organized
- Have a tidy-up time — five to 10 minutes is enough — every night before bed where your child can put everything away
You can also apply these techniques to other areas of the home where clutter tends to accumulate. And once you’re finished, hire a maid service to give your home a good, thorough deep cleaning to take care of any dust or grime that’s been hiding out behind your stuff. The same goes for stubborn furniture stains—hire a professional furniture cleaner to remove them. A clean and decluttered home environment will make it easier for your autistic child to thrive.
For many children with autism, the standard “child’s bedroom” can be a stressful place. Bright colors, plenty of toys everywhere, drawings and patterns on the ceilings and walls, these can all trigger stress responses in a child with autism. Your main goal should be comfort and relaxation rather than fun and excitement.
This doesn’t mean the room has to be boring: It will have their toys, books, art supplies and all the things they love. However, it should also be a safe haven from the loud and chaotic spaces outside. By combining this frame of mind with the particular preferences of your child, you will be able to create an awesome place that suits them perfectly.