It’s possible to create a home where the décor has your sensory sensitivity in mind. Yes, you can renovate and decorate multiple rooms to be more sensory friendly, which is especially good if you or your child lives with autism. And nowhere is this design principle more important than in the kitchen.
This is the integral core of your home, where you cook some lovely meals for the whole family! But you also keep a lot of dangerous items here, and that means it’s important to incorporate sensory priority into the way you decorate and organize the kitchen.
And while that might sound hard to do when you’re a busy, working parent, it’s a lot simpler than you may think. We’ve even got some tips about the best ways to prioritize safety and adaptability for the sake of your senses. Have a read through of such tips down below.
Raise the Height of Your Cupboards
The higher the cupboards are, the less likely a child is going to come along and pull something off of them.
You get to sleep soundly at night knowing your little one can’t pull anything down and hurt themselves, and your child gets the peace of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. This is one of the best ways to prioritize the senses when you’re designing a family kitchen.
Texture and comfort are incredibly important to children with autism, and if they see an item made out of a material they like, or a food they really love sitting around on the surface, they’re going to want to touch it. With higher counter heights, you don’t have to be too mindful about keeping your home uber tidy, which we all know is hard!
Lock Away as Many Things as Possible
Children are curious at the best of times, constantly reaching for things they shouldn’t touch or burning their hands on hot pipes, water, and dishes straight out of the oven. For autistic children, this element of childhood can be dialed up to eleven.
That’s why it’s best to lock away as many things as possible. From crockery to cutlery, bottles of bleach and antibacterial wipes, as well as sharp and/or fragile objects that could easily smash to pieces, try to keep them out of harm’s way.
You should also call any of the local Plumbers in your area and see if you can slot sideboards or new cupboard fittings over any exposed piping in your kitchen. More storage space is never a bad idea, especially if you’ve got a lot of chemicals you like to clean with!
And small hands can knock, bash, and pick at peeling paint or gauze when there’s no barrier in the way. Because of this, you’ll want to invest in some safety locks for cabinets that are at child’s height to keep curious eyes and hands out as well.
Use Drawer and Cabinet Organizers
The easier it is to ‘file’ something into the right spot, the easier it’s going to be to encourage your child to carry out chores and use the kitchen in a safe and proper way.
If every item has a clearly defined, proper place, you can clear up after dinner in quick time with little fuss. This means investing in a lot of drawer and cabinet organizers.
These can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you just need to find one that’ll fit and provide plenty of storage space for the items involved. Cutlery drawers tend to benefit the most from these sectionals, but you can use them in the plate and pots cupboards as well.
Buy Crockery in a Texture You Like
It’s hard to use a wooden spoon if you hate the feel of the grain on your fingers. Similarly, it’s hard to whisk up a cake batter if you’re using a plastic spatula that feels disgusting to the touch! And if you often struggle with ‘bad’ textures, make sure you only buy crockery in the textures you actually like.
This means plastic cutlery only if you can’t stand metal or silicon, and vice versa if you can’t stand plastic. Never compromise here either – if you won’t use it, it was just a waste of money! It’ll sit in the cupboard or the drawer and be useless.
Plus, if you often struggle with sensory overstimulation, make sure you buy kitchen items in ‘quiet’ textures as well. A material that won’t sound too loud against the dishwasher door, or when it’s put into the cupboard on top of the other plates and bowls. It’s not just about what you touch and how you can use it. You want the kitchen to be a friendly place to be, and that includes the way it sounds to you.
Use Plenty of Warning Labels
If there’s a big warning sign on something, we instantly know what not to do with it! Making your intentions for items in the kitchen very clear, as well as easily legible, is one of the best ways to be friendly on the senses.
Either use a label maker or get some plain stickers, then write the instructions out in big and bold letters. You can label ingredients with their name, when to use them, and how to store them away properly. You can label kitchen implements with who is allowed to touch them and who isn’t.
Whatever it is you need to make your child aware of, make a label with appropriate instructions and walk through each of them together. Make sure they can read what you’ve written and give a brief explanation of the meaning at the same time.
Designing your kitchen to work for the senses is a smart idea, whether you’re neurodiverse or not! A more gentle home design is the best way to live, and a lovely environment to raise children in. So start with the kitchen; it could be a dangerous and awkward room to use without changes like these.
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