Autism-Friendly Bedroom

Designing an Autism-Friendly Bedroom

Over 700,000 people are on the autism spectrum in the UK; if you include their families, autism is a part of the lives of some 2.8 million people. When a child is diagnosed with autism, many changes are made in an effort to increase their quality of life. What parents find as they discover more about autism and meet other families with their individual experiences, is that autism varies greatly from child to child. That is, some children may feel overwhelmed by sensory input; for them, noises from the bathroom (e.g. hair dryers or electric toothbrushes) may be unbearable. Other children are under stimulated; this means that they benefit from sensory stimulation such as light and sound. Designing an autism-friendly bedroom begins with knowing your child and creating an environment that feels warm and inviting to them.

When Noise and Light are Distressing

Too much light and noise from the street or other bedrooms may be bothersome. If this is the case for your child, good bedroom design begins with placing their room in a quiet place in the home; that is, away from street level and preferably on another floor from the noisiest areas in the home (such as the living room and bedroom). Blackout curtains work well for those who feel overwhelmed by too much light in the day. These come in a variety of colours and can simply be partially or fully opened during the day.

A Nook of their Own

Some children on the spectrum like the sense of having a personal ‘bed nook’, which lends the effect of shelter and which separates their bed space from the rest of the bedroom. Nooks can be build with wood or as part of the cement work, so make sure to speak to your builder about size and design requirements. Make sure to calculate enough space in the nook for a comfortable adult-sized bed. Kids grow quickly and will soon be teens requiring plenty of legroom, so the nook should be long and wide enough for comfort. As noted by The National Autistic Society, for those on the autism spectrum, sleeping well can be particularly difficult. Therefore, efforts should be taken to reduce light and provide a bed that is the right firmness. In general, those who sleep on their sides can get away with a softer mattress, while those who sleep on their back require greater firmness.

Reducing Noise

Ensure your child’s bedroom a wall-to-wall carpet, which will help insulate the room. For those who are highly stimulated by sound, professional insulation will go a long way towards ensuring comfort. Some children find that white noise or music can help them sleep better. If so, make sure there is a handy bedside table or bed cabinet in which to store their musical device.

Keep Colours Muted

Avoid primary colours and observe which colours your child tends to be drawn towards when they need calming. If they like blue, consider a muted hue for their bedcovers, walls, etc. There should not be too much contrast between large furniture such as the bed or wardrobes and the walls behind them; use similar tones throughout to instil a sense of calm.

Organisation and Storage are Key

Organisation is key when it comes to bedroom design, since gadgets such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets can make it difficult for those on the spectrum to fall asleep. Ideally, gadgets should be stored outside the bedroom, or  in furniture located far from the bed. This way, the temptation use them at bedtime is reduced.

Sleep may be a challenge for people on the spectrum, but good design can go a long way towards promoting peace and sleepiness. A room that is neat, uncluttered, and subdued in tone will work excellently for those for whom too much light and colour can be distressing. Meanwhile, efforts to reduce noise will work well to create the kind of environment a child can feel safe and secure in.

Article provided by Jane Saunders - freelance writer.

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