Of the many myths about autism, one that is a reality for most parents is that over 80% of autistic children have issues with their sleep. When we are looking at improving our child’s sleep, the most important place to begin is their bedroom. A well-designed bedroom for an autistic child should cover a number of bases. So what are the things we need to think about?
Meeting Their Sensory Needs
There are a number of things to consider, including lighting, bedding, and seating. It is important to keep your child’s sensory preferences in mind. When you are choosing bedding or flooring, consider the fabrics that appeal to them and are soft to the touch. With regards to their bedding, think about materials like cotton or flannel, as well as heavy comforters and weighted blankets which can provide a deep touch pressure sensory input. Additionally, think about their seating and the surface they walk on. A number of custom order rugs can be made to occupy your child’s bedroom space with a material that suits them. You should also think about furniture, such as bean bags, as well as a table or desk and chair if the bedroom is being used for many tasks.
If you’ve got limited space to play with in your home, it is handy to define spaces within their room. It’s important to minimize stress, and having definite spaces in your child’s bedroom for them to sleep, work, play as well as storage for their toys and stationery can contain the mess, and will also help you to instill specific expectations of how they can keep this space clean and tidy. When it comes to storage space, you may want to think about simple solutions, for example, under-bed storage drawers, or soft-sided cubes. Underbed storage drawers will keep things out of sight and free up the floor space, and the soft-sided cubes are a great way to store small figurines and stuffed animals.
Providing a Sensory Deprivation Area
It is important to provide your autistic child with a sensory deprivation area. But it doesn’t have to be overly expensive. You may not even want to put it in your child’s bedroom to minimize clutter, but you can incorporate elements of sensory deprivation in their sleeping space. For example, you could provide noise-canceling headphones, soft pillows, and their preferred toys or teddy bears. It’s also worth considering that if there is a lot of external noise, for example, if your child’s bedroom is near a busy street, you may want to think about installing a white noise machine as this can minimize any stress. If your child is struggling to sleep, this, in combination with a smart alarm clock can work wonders. Smart alarm clocks work by gradually brightening the room in the run-up to the alarm going off, meaning they are able to wake up slowly and without a shock.
These are just a few things to think about, and if you are looking to redesign your child’s room, or your child has recently been diagnosed with autism, it’s important to turn their bedroom space into a safe haven.