When designing a bedroom for a child on the autism spectrum, there is much to be considered depending on the degree of autism, the child's interests and the age of the child. Regardless, the most important factor to keep in mind is safety. Beyond that, sensory stimulation is extremely important. Children who are on the upper level of functioning on the autism spectrum will tend to be less destructive than those who are lower on the spectrum. With these things in mind, a safe and visually stimulating environment can be created.
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Things you need
- Childproof electrical socket covers
- Sturdy (heavy) chest of drawers
- Safety drawer latches
- Padded furniture edge covers
- Sturdy, lidless colourful toy box
- High-gloss colourful wall paint
- Paint brushes
- Age-appropriate toys
- Short, sturdy book case
Set up a very heavy and sturdy chest of drawers that is low to the ground. Many children with autism lack an awareness of danger and are prone to climbing on furniture. Having a chest that is heavy, sturdy and not very tall can prevent serious injury from a curious, climbing child.
Install childproof latches on each of the drawers of the chest. These will prevent the drawers from opening all of the way, thus preventing the drawer from coming all of the way out of the frame and possibly falling on the child.
Find all of the electric outlets in the child's room and install childproof outlet covers on each of them. This will prevent a curious child with a lack of danger awareness from sticking their fingers in these outlets and getting shocked.
Place a very heavy, short, sturdy bookcase in the room. Be sure it is heavy enough so that it cannot be pulled over by your child. Also, it is important that is not tall enough for the child to climb too high up on where she would be injured if she were to fall.
Cover all of the furniture with sharp edges with childproof corner covers. This will prevent the child from injuring themselves if they bump into the edges. Keep in mind that autistic children love to spin and rock, making it very likely that a child may bump into furniture in the process. These covers are generally made out of foam rubber and are excellent in cushioning any potential collision.
Choose a bed that is low to the ground, as many autistic children are fitful sleepers. If the child falls out of the bed she will be less likely to be hurt if she has not fallen as far of a distance.
Keep all windows securely locked so the child cannot get the window open to climb out. Also, cover windows with blinds or curtains that cannot be pulled down.
Paint all of the walls in your child's favourite colour(s). If your child likes one particular colour, then paint each wall in a different shade of that colour. This provides the child with a more visually stimulating environment than painting all of the walls in the same shade. Each wall will offer a different perspective. This also tends to brighten up a room.
Choose two or three sets of bedding in the child's favourite colour(s). This will give the child a little bit of variety while still having the colour(s) that he loves. Keep in mind when choosing these items that autistic children are generally resistant to change, so having the colours that they enjoy looking at most will ease the child's disturbance. At the same time, the child will have a variety in the colour(s) that makes them feel comfortable.
Place some of your child's favourite books on the book shelf and always keep a few new ones that she has not read yet in case she decides to try something different. However, children with autism like doing the same thing over and over again and favourite books are no exception.
Place a large area rug on the child's floor in the colour that matches their walls and bedding.
Place toys in the toy chest, being careful to avoid toys with small pieces that may be choking hazards.
Tips and warnings
- Autistic kids love shiny colours, so using high-gloss paints add to their visual stimulation.
- Allow your child to help pick out the bedding if they are capable.
- Be extra cautious to use childproof products that are very sturdy, as some autistic children are capable of figuring out how to remove flimsy, cheaply-made products.
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