6 Components of a Calming Bedroom for Children on the Autism Spectrum
By Linda Robinson
Kids on the autism spectrum have specific needs when it comes to a comfortable living space. To avoid stress, anxiety, and sleep problems, careful consideration and time should be put into creating a home environment that caters to those needs, but their bedroom is especially important. With sensory sensitivity in mind, the end goal of such a bedroom can be described in one word: calm. Here are 6 factors to consider when designing a calming bedroom for a child on the spectrum:
One scientifically-proven way to assist your child in and outside of their bedroom is with Mente. Our earphones and therapeutic sessions use personalized audio feedback that helps your little one’s brain find a sense of calm. This technology has been proven to help children with autism respond more positively to their environment, so it’s a great way to help your child naturally engage in a more harmonious way with the world around them. You can learn more about how Mente can make a difference in your child’s life here.
Depending on your child’s level of sensory sensitivity, they could be mildly or severely affected by the cold and heat. Once you figure out the ideal temperature, it’s important to have a separate thermostat for their bedroom so that you can keep the temperature consistent. A cooler bedroom can promote better sleep, so use your judgment and consider keeping the temperature a little lower than the rest of the house. Also, if your child suffers from allergies, consider using an air purifier while they sleep, especially if you have smokers in the house. In addition to cleaning smoke particles from the air, purifiers can also help eliminate lingering odors.
It’s well-known that colors can have an impact on mood; bold and bright colors are exciting, while soft and neutral colors are calming. If your child has a heightened perception of color, bright colors could encourage hyperactivity and discourage sleep. It’s safest to go with low-intensity neutrals (e.g., gray, beige, and/or greige) or tranquil hues of blue, green, and/or violet. This includes every element of the room — the walls, flooring, bedding, toys, etc. Even the color of furniture can make a difference, so avoid that bright red desk and opt for natural wood colors.
One of the most important components of a calming bedroom is lighting. Generally speaking, fluorescent is the enemy. The intermittency of a fluorescent beam, along with the buzzing sound, is magnified in the perception of an autistic child. Go with incandescent lighting. Also, utilize natural sunlight from windows as much as you can, and consider adding a frosted film over the window glass to mitigate distractions from outside. Furthermore, think about making the bedroom a screen-free zone. The omission of TV, computers, tablets, and handheld devices can go a long way in promoting a healthy bedtime and restful sleep.
Along with sensitivity to temperature, colors, and lights, children on the spectrum can also be affected by the spatial layout of a room. Keep the clutter to a minimum, and make sure the furnishings, furniture, and other objects in the room are well-organized. If your child likes to play in their bedroom, it can help to divide the room into zones. For example, you can create a play zone, cool-down zone, and sleep zone. By keeping furniture along the walls, you can leave adequate space in the middle of the floor for playtime.
Furniture is another important factor in designing your child’s bedroom. Make sure any bookcases, dressers, tables, or other pieces are durable and heavy enough to withstand pressure without tipping over. Keeping pieces close — or even attached — to the wall is best. Also, pay close attention to the edges of the furniture. In some cases, it may be necessary to add bumpers or padding. Moreover, some of the sensory issues faced by autistic children can be exacerbated by toxins in the environment, so be picky about what furniture is in the bedroom and try to stay away from manufactured wood.
Many children on the autism spectrum deal with stress, anxiety, and poor sleep, and much of it has to do with their heightened sensory sensitivity. This means that extra care is required to make their bedroom a calm environment. Consider using Mente’s tailored therapy to help your child self-soothe. Make sure their bedroom has its own thermostat so you can adjust the temperature as needed. Give special attention to the colors, lighting, and spatial layout of the room, and be picky when it comes to the furniture you use.
Visit http://youdidyourbest.org/ for more inspiring parenting articles.
Photo Credit: Unsplash