For a family, a home that’s cozy though messy, spacious despite the lack of light, and fun in the middle of the noise from television and the kids running around is a near-perfect home. But for a family where there is a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it may not be so fun and happy. It is crucial to make the home as safe and stress-free as possible for the child and the family to thrive and overcome the challenges of the life they are living every day.
Below are some helpful tips for reorganizing your humble abode in a way that it is comfortable, enriching, and livable for the whole family.
Rearrange And Reorganize
A disorganized home increases stress and tension to the family, and other kids with autism get confused and dazed when the space they are in is messy and crowded. As explained by Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D “Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed.” So when you are thinking of reorganizing, start with the space that your child spends most of his time in, like his room or the living room. Arrange his toys in a way that they’re not all clumped in one corner. Put them in boxes before arranging them above or inside the cabinets.
As for the living room, avoid decorating it with jars or other decors that are breakable. Assign a specific space for where your child can do most of her activities like eating, playing, or just tinkering.
Autistic children are often very sensitive to certain types of stimuli, so it is wise to lessen these stimuli in the home to keep them from manifesting unpleasant behaviors. Avoid using fluorescent lights and super bright lights, strong-scented paints, air fresheners, candles, or perfumes. If you have a doorbell, keep it to minimal volume, as kids with autism are often bothered with loud noises, including the ringing of the phone. Also, don’t watch loud television and listen to music at the same time. UA Huntsville psychologist Pavica Sheldon explains that “It is a social theory which examines the long-term effects of television. The research shows that too much time spent in front of the TV watching violent programs leads to ‘the mean world syndrome.”
Keep Accident-Prone Spaces Safe
The kitchen has sharp objects and dangerous appliances that may cause accidents to your child. Keep these things in safe cabinets and areas where children cannot reach them, or lock the drawers that contain knives and forks. Unplug appliances like the toaster, oven, or coffeemaker right after using. Additionally, medicines and other hazardous solutions should be kept in their rightful places like medicine cabinets. Finally, don’t forget to install alarms, as sometimes, autistic kids wander off when they want to. Alarms and locks can keep them safe, especially when they are unsupervised.
Create A Conducive-For-Learning Home
Most parents who have raised their children with autism managed well with using pictures and symbols so that their daily routines are more structured and organized. You can place visual reminders such as post-its on the fridge so your child knows what she can and can’t eat for breakfast. If there’s a space that your child is prohibited from going, post a stop sign so she can better understand. Or you can write signs for where you want her to place her shoes and school stuff when she arrives home from school. “Being diagnosed with Autism does not have not to impact you negatively. People with Autism can live fulfilling and meaningful lives. It is about learning the tools and skills that can help lead to success.” John Cutrone, LMHC, MCAP, CAS said.
Designate an area in the home where your child is most relaxed or comfortable in, and assign this as her nook. You can place a big beanbag chair with soft pillows where she can study, play, or listen to music. Let this be her own space for when she wants peace and calm.
Children are a priority for parents, even more when they are diagnosed with something like autism. They may have disabilities and are challenged by a lot of things, but they can learn, and they can improve. It is your responsibility as much as it is your labor of love to provide your child with a home that is safe, clean, and happy – where the whole family can live as normally as possible.