- Joyce Wilson
How to Buy a Safe and Sensory-Friendly Home for Your Autistic Child
Raising a child with autism changes a lot of things — including how you buy a home. Children with autism spectrum disorder have a range of special needs including neurodevelopmental delays, chronic sleep problems, and a need for consistency. Autistic children also face unique dangers at home.
The right home makes a big difference in your ability to keep your child with autism healthy, happy, and safe. But what does the “right home” look like? There are some things every parent of an autistic child should consider when buying a home.
Autism and house hunting: What to look for, what to avoid
Can a house really make parenting a child with autism easier? Yes! Here’s what to look for when buying your next home:
Yes: Quiet location
Quiet neighborhoods with minimal traffic provide a safe and sensory-friendly environment for children with autism. If possible, look for a neighborhood where children can play without worrying about thru-traffic.
Yes: Good schools
Schools are another important consideration when choosing a location. Research special education services and ask about accommodations available to your child before selecting a school district.
Yes: Predictable layout
Open floor plans are a recipe for overstimulation and anxiety for children on the spectrum. Choose a home where every room has a defined purpose to reinforce household routines. Layouts with built-in walking loops are also a great choice for autism families.
Keep in mind that if you’re looking for apartments for rent in Denver CO instead of buying a home, many online listings offer virtual and 3D tours so you can view an apartment’s layout without having to visit in person.
Yes: Built-in storage
Built-in organization including closets, shelves, and cabinets make it easy to prevent clutter and the overstimulation that comes with it.
It’s also important to know what to avoid when house hunting:
No: Water features
Avoid buying a home near a pond, stream, or other body of water. Secure pools, hot tubs, fountains, and other water features before moving in.
No: Unfenced yards
Fences offer valuable peace of mind to all parents, but especially parents of children prone to elopement. Buying a home with a fence already installed avoids the hassle and expense of putting one in yourself.
No: Tiny bathrooms
Cramped, crowded spaces can trigger anxiety. Look for bathrooms large enough to be comfortable, especially if your child needs help toileting or bathing, but not so large that it promotes distraction.
No: Noisy HVAC systems
Most homebuyers don’t pay much thought to the HVAC system as long as it works, but noisy appliances may distress a child sensitive to sound. Opt for homes with newer HVAC systems and avoid properties with HVAC equipment located near bedrooms.
Big transitions: How to prepare for moving day
A new home can make a world of difference for your family, but first, you have to get there. Autistic children struggle with transitions and moving is perhaps the biggest transition of all.
Talk to your child about the move in advance and use visual cues like a calendar to count down to moving day. When moving day arrives, stick to routines as much as possible. This is easier with a moving crew to handle most of the heavy lifting. On a tight budget? Ask about pricing options. Some moving companies offer flat-rate deals if you only need help for a few hours.
How to make your home more autism-friendly
Most homes aren’t designed with special needs in mind. Make room in your budget for home modifications for autism such as these:
Safety and security: Use smart technology to increase safety and visibility at home. Popular options include indoor cameras, window and door sensors, and flood sensors.
Lighting: Replace fluorescent lighting with LED and install dimmable lights. Use window treatments to prevent glare.
Flooring: Replace carpeting with hard flooring to prevent allergies, which are more common in children with autism.
Color: Paint walls in muted, neutral colors using durable paints. Avoid bright colors which may be overstimulating.
Sound: Reduce noise pollution by installing solid doors, noise-reducing curtains, and other soundproofing solutions.
You spend most of your time at home and you deserve a house that supports your family. As you shop for your new home, keep these tips in mind along with your child’s own unique needs. When you put your family’s needs at the forefront of house hunting, you buy a home where everyone thrives.
Visit Joyce Wilson's website at http://teacherspark.org/
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