GUEST BLOG: JENNY WISE - HOW TO DESIGN FOR CHILDREN WITH AUTISM
These days there are so many influences that affect the way we design our homes. Magazines, the latest Pinterest trends, Instagram, just a few of the many resources available to homeowners that can sometimes distract from the foundation of how we should design the space around us. At Katherine Bedson, we know that one of the key factors in interior design has to be lifestyle.
Do you have young children and need a never-ending supply of storage? Do you have dogs and need floors that are hardwearing. Do you work from home and need a designated working area? And what if you have children with Autism?
When writer Jenny Wise reached out to us and wanted to share her thoughts and experience of designing for children with Autism, we were immediately interested in what she had to say. Her advice on space planning and layout considerations, safety features, sensory-friendly lighting and furniture considerations, all channel the idea that a well designed space can help build skills and promote learning.
It's a little talked about area in the world of interior design, but an all important one for those living with Autism. Catching up with Jenny, we are proud to share what she had to say.
Children on the autism spectrum often benefit from special considerations in their home environment, especially their bedrooms. Making a place comfortable for playing, studying, and resting can help a youngster with autism thrive. With that in mind, we’ve gathered pertinent information for parents who are ready to create the ideal space for a child with autism.
Start with a Fresh Mindset
When decorating a child’s room, many of us think in terms of themes and fun decor. However, Verywell Health explains that kids on the autism spectrum oftentimes have sensory issues, which can make traditional children’s rooms overwhelming for them. They might be overly responsive to what their senses are trying to take in or require added stimulation. Spaces that are primarily simple can help a child with autism to feel more settled, and spaces that promote sensory stimulation can contribute to more focused input. Those are points to keep in the forefront of your mind when redesigning your child’s room.
Do Some Decluttering
Bedrooms with generally quiet decor offer the opportunity for children on the autism spectrum to feel more relaxed and experience reduced confusion and distraction. So, do some decluttering and find ways to keep the space organized and open. One way to free up space is to add multifunctional furniture. It’s a chance to stow things out of the way and still keep them handy. For instance, a trunk can serve as storage for toys and, at the same time, be put to work as a table or seat. A bed with storage drawers built into the bottom makes use of otherwise wasted space under the frame, allowing you to keep the bedroom tidy.
Paring down furniture pieces and boosting storage means less “stuff” trying to grab your child’s attention. You can also use bins and other storage containers, so long as you stick with a minimalist, organized look. If your child enjoys visual cues, consider adding labels with pictures to the outside of the storage containers so your youngster can put her things away and contribute to the overall tidiness of the space.
Outfitting the Bed
Finding ideal bedding can feel particularly challenging for parents with children on the autism spectrum. There are several considerations, but thankfully, there are also several solutions. Some families find a floor bed is best, and some elect to install a softly padded safety bed. Many children are most comfortable in a traditional bed with well-chosen linens. A weighted blanket can be beneficial for reducing nighttime anxiety, or you can DIY a stretchy sheet. If your child has tactile sensitivity, you should think carefully about the textures of the linens. To help you make selections, try taking one of your child’s favorite garments shopping with you and comparing the way the fabric feels with sheets you’re considering.
Adding Sensory Input
A space for your child to engage in sensory stimulation is an important consideration. While all children are different, some kids with autism find movement beneficial. Eastern Jungle Gym notes that youngsters who tend toward rocking, jumping, or swinging can benefit from the installation of a swing in their rooms. While many families have outdoor swings, an indoor option provides the opportunity to engage in movement when weather is poor or at night. Another idea is to add a small trampoline to your child’s bedroom or create a resistance tunnel. Think in terms of sensations your child is drawn toward, and find ways for her to engage in similar activities.
A space that helps your child thrive can often sound complex, but a fresh perspective will make all the difference as you rethink your youngster’s room. Pare down on clutter with clever storage, choose soothing bedding, and add sensory stimulation tailored to your child’s inclinations. Your youngster can blossom with the right room decor.
A very big thank you to Jenny for putting this piece together for us, we hope that her tips and advice can help you or someone you know make a few simple changes to create an environment that is as soothing, comfortable, and calming as possible.