When you have children with autism, it’s important to help them feel as comfortable as possible. Going to school and social events can be difficult for them, as unfamiliar sensations and experiences can lead to sensory overload. These situations can be overwhelming and upsetting for an autistic child. That’s why it’s so essential that your home be a place of sanctuary for your little one. It should be a familiar, secure environment where they can feel safe and relax.
If you want to avoid the obstacles that a child with autism has to face daily, it is possible to make your house more autism-friendly. With a few small changes and habits, you can turn your home into a real sanctuary where your child can feel comfortable at all times. Here are some tips to get you started.
Create a schedule
Many children with autistic respond well to schedules and regularity. When everyday activities happen spontaneously, and without structure, it can create feelings of anxiety and stress. Try to keep to a routine that everyone in your household can follow. This doesn’t necessarily mean scheduling each action down to the minute, but incorporating a solid framework into each day will be beneficial. A routine for a typical school day could be: come home from school, change clothes, do homework, have dinner, watch TV or play games for an hour, brush teeth then bed. It will help to display this schedule in a visual form in your house, so everyone knows what to expect.
Reduce the unexpected
Not everything goes to plan. Appliances break, things go wrong, and there will be times when a routine isn’t possible. Perhaps you are having a side return extension put in, or have the plumbers in to mend your pipes. Maybe your car is in the garage and you’ll have to walk your child to school instead. These things happen, and changes can be stressful for a child with autism. The best solution is to minimize the impact these changes have on your child’s routine and prepare them as best you can. Let your child know well in advance if there will be changes to their schedule to ensure they won’t face any nasty surprises. If possible, try to schedule any disruptions to occur when your child is in school or out of the house so as not to impact them too much. Stick to the accepted routine as closely as possible, no matter what else is going on.
Minimize sensory overload
Some children with autism are incredibly susceptible to sensations like sounds, bright lights, and smells. Try to reduce the possibility of sensory overload by minimizing these as much as you can. This may mean cleaning more regularly to get rid of unpleasant odors, or not cooking pungent, spicy foods. Bright fluorescent lights can be particularly uncomfortable, so you may need to invest in some new lighting or even dimmer switches. Giving your child noise-canceling headphones to listen to music or audiobooks is a great way to help them relax when you have a noisy household.