CREATING AN AUTISM-FRIENDLY HOME
The world we live in may not look quite the same for people with autism, especially those whose disorder falls on the lower end of the spectrum. We may breathe the same air, or look up to the same sky, but these are not guarantees that autistic persons feel and perceive the way we do. If one could only delve deep and understand the symptoms of autism, they can easily figure out possible real-life problems that autistic individuals may face. Social withdrawal, for instance, would make it hard for autistic individuals to connect with peers and earn friends of their own, which is very much important in establishing rapport with other employees in the workplace. Their higher level of sensitivity to sensory inputs such as noise, light, and odour may also become a problem in social environments where they might react extremely to it. Imagine an autistic person being invited to watch a football game, or to accompany someone else to buy groceries in the supermarket – these are some typical situations that could become stressful for persons with autism if their conditions are not addressed well by any early treatment and program as well as essential training from home.
It goes without saying that the home is where a child learns most of the basic firsts in life. From potty training, saying the first word, and to taking the first steps, these are all basic part of human development that can ideally be learned from home. This is exactly the same fundamental aspect that must be observed for cases of families with an autistic member. Needing a guide to help them even more than a normal kid does, an autistic child or teen requires all the support and direction he or she could need in a family to eventually manage to live a normal life amidst autism.
Factors that Makes a Home not Autism-Friendly
Most importantly, the autistic individual should feel that the home is the safest and most comfortable place to live in, to further enhance the effectiveness of treatment and programs. There are certain factors, however, that should also be addressed, before a household becomes an autism-friendly environment. For instance, there are certain unpredictable circumstances that might cause chaos and unrest in the household, such as quarrels, health emergencies, and fortuitous events, leaving your autistic child or teen in a restless state. Other family members too, might have wants or needs that could put the autistic person’s condition at risk, like they want to throw a house party where noise and smell may be too much for the autistic family member to handle. Inevitable changes in lifestyle and routines can become a source of frustration and outward rejection of your autistic child or teen, and more stress could build up if there are also home-based therapies aside from those provided by schools and health institutions. In order to make your home the best place for your autistic family member to rest and better themselves, here are good pointers to help you out.
Give your child some time and space to be on their own. Being beside your child at all times can make him more dependent and clingy to you which is not good in the long run. Providing some free time to your teen could also give a sense of freedom and helps prevent the rebellious behaviour from emerging. Make sure to let other people in the house know that your child should be left alone for a specific period of time and place either by word or by making a sign board.
Minimize as much distracting sensory inputs as possible. There are specific household activities and things that can be changed or modified in order to lessen the intensity of sensory stimuli for the sake of your family member with autism. Fragrant chemicals and products and foods that have strong odour should be kept in a different place that is far from the autistic child or teen’s usual places to hang out. The radio and television should be kept at lower volumes, and headphones are to be preferred over speakers. Your light source shouldn’t be too bright and should be anything other than fluorescent bulbs, as suggested by experts.
Make a clear and accomplishable schedule that will divide very specific household activities. To establish order in the house, things like shower time, dinner, television hours and a period to do school assignments are just some of the important activities at home that should be planned out and briefed to every family member. This prevents disagreement on certain actions, conflict of interest and competition of gadgets or facility between members of the family, including the ones suffering from autism.
Always be on the lookout for stress indicators and also provide treats. It is often the case that an autistic member of the family might not easily communicate their needs or complaints directly. Be always mindful of cues like unexplained crying or yelling, as they may be caused by frustrations and uncomfortable situations. Make sure that you understand what they specifically need in certain situations and be quick in addressing it. In the same manner, remember to keep at least one specific food or treat that your autistic child or teen likes to eat, as a way of consoling and alleviating stress, or rewarding good behaviour, but not to the point where it begins to spoil the autistic family member.
As much as possible, do not overwhelm your autistic child or teen with too much therapy. It is not a good thing for your child to be enduring yet another couple hours of draining home-based therapy sessions after having attended one or more of related programs in school or medical institution. An autistic child or teen has probably the same body framework to that of normal individuals, thus they would also need rest and serenity after a long day of therapy and training. It isn’t healthy at all for them to be restlessly participating.