Many autistic children struggle to sleep, and poor sleep habits are a big worry for the parents of children with autism. Looking at your child’s bedroom can give some ideas and solutions to help. A well-designed bedroom for an autistic child should be functional, meet their sensory needs, make them feel safe, and encourage independence. There’s a lot to consider, but it can be done, and still be a cute, fun bedroom.
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Unless you’re lucky enough to have enough room to give your kid’s a playroom, your child’s bedroom is probably full of toys, games, and collectibles. You can define different spaces in their bedroom for play, work, sleep, and storage, so you can get control of the possible chaos and help your kids to identify what is expected of them.
Give Them Storage
Clear stackable drawers are easy to label with pictures, symbols, or words according to what your child needs. Their bedroom should be a calm place for them to relax in and sleep. It’s hard to do that when the room is cluttered and messy. If you can’t encourage them to limit their stuff, give them plenty of functional storage options.
Keep the storage options simple so your child can tidy up independently and get at everything they need. Being better organized can help to improve executive function, reduce anxiety, and encourage independence.
Soft-sided cubes are a safe way to store stuffed animals or smaller figurines. Underbed storage drawers keep more stuff out of the way and clear the floor space for some play. A locked closet can work well for materials, toys, or breakables that could be a safety risk if they’re used unsupervised. This is especially important if your child wakes up at night.
Lighting can have a big impact on your child’s sensory system, so it’s important to get right. You will look at your child’s bedroom differently to the way they do, so do some research. There are a few ways to adjust the light in your child’s room, such as:
- Blackout blinds and curtains
- Red-hued night lights
- Carpeting or low-pile rugs to reduce glare
- Desk or floor lamps near work areas
Choosing the right bedding is when your child’s sensory preferences are the most important to keep in mind. Get them involved in the choice, so they can choose a fabric that is soft and pleasing to them, such as cotton, flannel, or t-shirt materials. Choose a pattern or print that is fun, but not too stimulating.
Autistic kids are very sensitive to their environment, so choose quality bedding and keep it fresh and clean. If their mattress has seen better days, you can use this guide to learn how to get stains out of mattress, so they’re not bothered by musty odors.
Weighted blankets or heavy comforters can help with disrupted sleep, as they provide some deep touch pressure sensory input. Compression sheets also provide deep touch pressures, which regulate your child’s nervous system, like a hug. Both options can help your child to feel safe and relaxed, and ready for sleep.