Creating a Restful Bedroom for A Child on the Autism Spectrum
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Creating a Restful Bedroom for a Child on the Autism Spectrum
For a child with autism, bedroom design is extremely important. Although your child will engage in several activities in this room, it should be a place of relaxation first and foremost. Recent research suggests that children with autism who sleep seven or fewer hours per night experience more severe autistic symptoms, including social problems, compulsive behaviors, and depressed mood. Fortunately, a restful bedroom environment may help your child get the quality sleep they need. Here are some tips to turn your child’s home environment into a place where they can thrive.
Add Features that Encourage Exploration
It’s a good idea to divide your child’s room into sections. Clearly designating areas for play, sleep, and learning can help your child focus on the activity at hand. In one section of the room, include features that encourage your child to explore and get creative. Add a comfortable rug and provide Legos, blocks, and jigsaw puzzles. Incorporate a small desk into the area with drawing supplies. This is a great way to help your child develop new skills and greater confidence.
Provide an Active Outdoor Play Space
Consider supplementing this indoor play area with an explorative backyard space. All children can benefit from being outside, getting exercise, soaking up vitamin D from the sun, and developing an appreciation for nature. Plus, outdoor play can help your child broaden their developmental skills as they problem-solve and practice learning from their mistakes. HomeAdvisor recommends adding sensory play elements to your backyard just as you would to their bedroom. Some excellent options include a swing set (the cost of a wood swing set averages $500 - $1,200), a bubble station, and sidewalk chalk. If you need help setting up your swing set, you can call on a handyman in Tulsa. This work can be pricey (with an average cost of $431), so you may want to ask family and friends to help instead.
Incorporate Calm Zones
When your child needs to escape from overwhelming stimulation, a calm zone in their bedroom can provide comfort and relief. A play tent or space on the floor with big, fluffy pillows is great for this. You can think of this area as a kind of cool-down spot. Add some calming toys, like teddy bears, to help engage your child without contributing to overstimulation. Supplying headphones and a weighted blanket can also be a good idea.
Choose Design Elements that Promote Rest
The overall design of your child's bedroom should follow the same idea as the calm zone. Paint the walls in a soothing shade of green or blue. Avoid bright overhead lights. Instead, maximize natural light from outdoors and soft ambient lighting with lampshades or wall sconces. Consider adding some artwork that depicts nature and family photos to help comfort your child.
There are also a few things you can do to improve your child’s sleep quality during the night. The Alaska Sleep Clinic recommends keeping your child’s room cool, dark, and quiet. You can accomplish this with the help of blackout curtains and a cooling fan that plays double duty by drowning out distracting sounds. Most importantly, don’t keep electronics in the room—televisions, computers, and tablets contribute to wakefulness.
Think Like a Minimalist
Another way to help your child thrive in their bedroom is to cut out the clutter. Clutter can be distracting and distressing, even for adults! Remove anything from the room that your child no longer wants or uses. If your child has a lot of toys that they love, try packing most of them in a bin and keeping just a few out for them to play with at a time. Use clear bins to store their things so your little one knows where to find items they need—this will help your child learn independence as they are increasingly able to accomplish things on their own. For organizational inspiration, check out these awesome children’s storage ideas from DIY Joy.
Like all children, kids with autism want to feel safe and comforted in their home environment. Since their bedroom may be the only place they can call their own, ensure this space meets all of their needs for creativity, exploration, and relaxation. Just remember to ask for their input—choosing a favorite color to paint the walls or hanging artwork of their choice can help your child feel more in control of their space.