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Making Your Home Suit a Child on the Spectrum
Every family has a different set of needs, and families that include a child with autism are no different. A CDC study found that roughly two percent of all children in the U.S. are on the autism spectrum. As the prevalence of autism continues to grow, it’s helpful to know how your home can accommodate a child on the spectrum. Here are some tips from Becker Realty Services, Inc.
Considering Their Needs
Autism spectrum disorder is an incredibly varied diagnosis, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building a friendly environment for those affected. Common autistic traits include sensory processing issues, delay in speech skills or outright non-verbal behavior, difficulty understanding social cues, and emotional volatility when breaking a routine. Since the manifestations of the disorder are as diverse as those affected by it, any change made to your home should be catered to the individual.
Depending on the severity and manifestation, overstimulated and upset children with autism are prone to meltdowns. Establishing (and sticking to) a set of routines is a great way to avoid such conflicts. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and working together to prevent an avoidable crisis.
Accommodating Their Comfort
One way in which ASD presents is Sensory Processing Disorder. Smart Kids notes that children with SPD have difficulty filtering sensory inputs and focusing on important information, and they can become easily overwhelmed in bright or noisy environments. Having a clean, quiet, dimly lit area in your home where your child can retreat will not only avoid meltdowns but give them the tools to mitigate their overstimulation on their own.
Children with autism thrive on sensory-seeking activities. Toddlers may enjoy activities involving a “sensory bin” containing a multitude of items of varying textures. Older kids and teens may find fidget toys such as spinners and stress balls are sufficient stimulation. Allowing children to use these tools even when it may not be considered appropriate for a neurotypical child, such as during dinner, will help regulate their comfort and emotions.
Keeping your home clean and organized, as well as sticking to a routine, helps you manage the idiosyncrasies of the autism spectrum. With a better idea of how your child’s disorder manifests, you’ll be more aware of which methods work for you. Remember that your home is your child’s safe space, and while you should make them feel as safe and comfortable as possible you should also give them space to express themselves. A sensory-neutral zone, free from clutter and harsh lighting, will reduce your stress and your child’s.
Building an Environment That Works for Everyone
As you add comforting and stimulating features to your home, keep in mind that your entire family lives there. Find products and renovations that will benefit everyone where possible and ones that everyone can live with otherwise. Many autism-friendly products such as timed lighting, weighted blankets, and noise reduction products can benefit neurotypical people and people with autism alike.
It’s easy to sink all of your energy into the child who needs you the most, but if you have other children it’s important to take some time for them as well. Make sure during this process to be available for them. Being with them at bedtime, making specific plans with individual kids, and even including them in household chores will make sure your other children are not falling by the wayside as you deal with these challenges.
In addition to creating a home that physically supports your family, you may need to make lifestyle adjustments. Many people consider a career change, depending on the child’s needs. Transitioning to a schedule that coordinates with your child’s school schedule might be ideal, so you can continue to prioritize the needs of all your kids. Fortunately, you can get a bachelor of education if your dream is to further your career in education, all without leaving home thanks to the availability of accredited online schools. This means you can save both time and money by being able to complete coursework wherever you have an internet connection.
Raising a child on the autism spectrum has its complications, but taking the time to experiment with their quirks and accommodate their discomforts will reduce the stress on everyone involved.