Tips For Adjusting Your Home For A Child With Autism
Undoubtedly, you have heard of autism or Asperger’s by now. Even if you don’t have anyone in your immediate family on the spectrum, the awareness of this neurological condition has spread — as so has accurate diagnoses from pediatricians.
That’s why you might have guests coming that include a child with autism. Is your house ready for such a visitor? Don’t panic, as many children on the autism spectrum have special needs you can easily address. But before you make any changes to your home, it helps to know the truth about autism.
Autism Spectrum Myths
First, you need to know that “autism” covers a lot of different behaviors and issues. No two people with autism are the same, and issues can range from a mild sensory problem to being completely withdrawn.
As PBS.org explains, children with autism are likely not violent, savants, or disabled. Many can have trouble controlling their impulses, it’s not like you have to prepare an empty room devoid of anything that could possibly be dangerous. In addition, many people on the spectrum are not cold or unemotional. In fact, the opposite is true — many are so sensitive that it becomes overwhelming.
Although autism can be correlated with a lower IQ, it’s not like these kids are intellectually disabled. You won’t have to dumb down your conversations, at least no more than you would for any child that age. Think of children with autism as children first and you should be fine.
Although you want to treat children with autism similarly to any child, there is a reason they have this diagnosis. That means you do need to review your home and make sure it doesn’t become over-stimulating to the child.
As Redfin notes, sensory overload is a common factor in autism. This is when the environment — a room, park, or just about anyplace — has too many things going on that the child cannot relax or feel safe. That includes colors, shapes, sounds, and movement. To help, you should designate one room for the child and make sure it’s simple. The less clutter there is, the more calming it can be. Also, check out the lighting around your home. Natural light is best, but a room with a dimmer switch can really come in handy.
Although kids love snacks, TVs, and video games, be prepared to take these away as options. Some children with autism will enjoy all three just fine, whereas others can get overstimulated by them. As with any child, keep things simple until you know they can handle it.
You’ve created a better environment for the child, and they’re on their way over. What can you do when they get there? For most children on the autism spectrum, just do what you would normally do. However, LoveToKnow.com has a list of activities specifically suited for such a child.
Art projects are often great ideas, so break out the fingerpaints or pencils and paper. Puppet shows can be fun, and just getting up and dancing to great music (at a proper volume) can work. Older children can enjoy improvisational skits or even a blindfolded obstacle course. Many will just be happy watching a movie or reading a book.
Again, keep in mind that every child with autism has unique needs, so start these activities slowly and be prepared to change them should they cause a problem.
Make A Safe Environment
It’s impossible to anticipate all the needs of anyone, but that doesn’t mean you cannot help a child with autism feel comfortable in your home. Be wary of overstimulation and create a room that’s simple and plain. Plan some fun activities and be ready to change things on the fly. This way, you can always be ready to help the child feel safe and welcome in your home.