How to Make Your Home More Comfortable for Your Special Needs Child
If you have a child with special needs, home modifications that make your house safer and more comfortable, do not have to cost an arm and leg. In fact, there are plenty of simple changes you can make to ensure your child grows up in a productive, calming environment.
Painting and lighting
When it comes to inexpensive but highly-effective home modifications, you can’t beat some paint overhauls and some better lighting. Many specialists who focus on kids with special needs will tell you that colors like red, orange, yellow, and sometimes even white can be over-stimulating and distracting – especially if your child is on the autism spectrum or has another type of behavioral issue.
Instead, opt for blues, greens, and browns for a calming effect – especially in your child’s bedroom.
Lighting is another huge issue. Ideally, you want enough light, but also the ability to provide dimmer light at certain times. The type of lighting also matters. Listen to what Licensed Interior Designer and autism specialist Carolyn Feder tells Autism Parenting Magazine.
“My favorite type of light is natural sunlight and when that’s not available, the closest to it are incandescent bulbs marked as SoI White, Daylight, Reveal or Full Spectrum as well as LEDs. On the flip side, [fluorescent bulbs] distort natural colors, buzz and strobe at very high frequencies. As they lose power, the strobing lessens and they flash like a camera which can create tiny injuries to the brain that are conducive to headaches, migraines, seizures and more.”
Separate rooms for separate activities
Oftentimes children with special needs have issues focusing, and on the flip side have a hard time relaxing once playtime is over. Because of this, it is vital that parents separate their children’s activities.
For example, the bedroom should be for sleeping only. It should be a calm room that’s free of distractions. It should not be a play room.
Instead, dedicate one room to being the “playroom.” Stock it with toys designed to assist your child’s development. Limit time in the playroom and stick to a schedule. Without boundaries, children with behavioral issues may regress.
Remove impediments around your house
If your child has developmental problems or is suffering from vision or hearing loss, it becomes paramount to remove any and all impediments to mobility around your home. At least initially, it might be helpful to hire a professional organizer or a housecleaner to help you declutter and rearrange your space for maximum accessibility.
Apart from just de-cluttering, you might want to employ different sounds, textures, and color contrast to help your child navigate your house.
“Provide plenty of open space. Keep doors and cabinets closed so children do not trip over them,” suggests Extension.org. “Place sound-making objects – clocks, wind chimes, radio – in different parts of the house or child care center. Encourage children to listen to the sounds to help learn their way around. Help children use textures such as tile, carpet, wood, glass windows, plastered walls and marble counter tops to locate different areas of the building. Keep space organized so children can find things easily. Place toys and materials in the same place every day.”
The point is that there is a lot you can do yourself to turn your home into a more accommodating living environment. Though the process can be labor intensive, it will feel great to be able to help your child in such a meaningful way.
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