|One of the things that parents of autistic children need to do is make their home as comfortable as they can for their children.|
Many people on the autism spectrum are sensitive to sensory “strikes” –ranging from loud noises to bright lights and crowds. For people with autism, school, work, social and cultural events, even birthday parties can affect them, possibly causing sensory overload, frustration, bullying, confusion, or just plain unpleasantness.
They are also more likely to be overwhelmed or upset when changes in routine, new foods, new people or new settings occur. Given the difficulties that autistic people can sometimes carry in their daily life, it makes sense that home should be a really comfortable place.
Sometimes, making home a comfortable place for an autistic person is not that easy. Here are just a few of the issues standing in the way:
- Siblings and parents also have needs. Sometimes they may choose to invite friends, make noise, try different food, or change daily life in some way that might be hard for the autistic member.
- Many of the treatments recommended for autistic children are home-based, meaning that after hours in school (with school-based therapies too), children may return home to more hours of therapy.
- When not so predictable emergencies or life-changing events such as a grandparent being sick or a sibling being injured, daily life and routine might have to change.
Given the fact they can't always have a perfectly calm life, what can families do to encourage a relaxed experience for the family member with autism? Here are some realistic tips and recommendations:
- Provide a real schedule that you and your autistic family member can follow, at least most of the time. This type of schedule works just as well for siblings and young autistic members. A schedule such as “come home, take a shower, eat dinner, watch TV for one hour, do homework, go to bed” may work.
- Give your child time and space to relax alone. For many people –with and without autism–, calm and alone time is essential.
- Keep their favorite foods in the house, so that your autistic family member can enjoy eating at least one item every now and then.
- Try to remove smells, lights, and sounds that may bother your autistic family member. You’ll need some cleaning supplies, yes, but you can find some with minimal odors. Yes, siblings can listen to music, but they may be able to use headphones too. You need light at home, but fluorescent lights can be uncomfortable even for someone without sensory challenges.
- Try to incorporate a minimum amount of therapies to be at home, unless they are really useful, necessary, and relatively pleasant for your child. It’s possible to provide play-based therapies or relaxing occupational or sensory therapies at home. This types of treatments may be of greater pleasure for the child.
- Keep alert for signs of stress in your autistic family member. Sometimes it may be hard for them to communicate what is exactly bothering them, so you should keep your eyes open to determine what it can be. Maybe they’re not enjoying the smell of broccoli cooking, or their sister’s phone sound is irritating.
Always keep an eye on small details, they can make a difference. Whether you’re a parent or a person living on the spectrum, remember that is okay to ask for help and guidance.
|You need to make sure to have the right amount of stimulation and repose for your child to grow happily.|
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