Sleep can be a huge problem for people on the autism spectrum.
Researchers estimate that 80 percent of children with autism spectrum disorder face sleep issues, struggling to fall asleep and/or stay asleep throughout the night.
Fortunately, parents can help by designing a relaxing bedroom that is more conducive to sleep.
Keep these design tips in mind as you make your child’s bedroom more comforting, soothing and safe.
1. Reduce Indoor Air Pollution
Poor indoor air quality can exacerbate children’s health problems and affect their development. Fix the air quality in your child’s room to facilitate healthier sleep and play.
Consider using MERV 11 air filters in your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system — these block 95 percent of airborne particles, like mold and pollen, which may worsen allergies or even cause illness.
While redecorating, choose non-VOC wall paint and add some air-purifying plants for an extra air quality boost.
Additionally, avoid using chemical cleaners in your home whenever possible.
2. Choose a Soothing Color Scheme
Color plays an important role in your child’s serene bedroom environment.
Choose soft, low-intensity hues for the walls, bedding, and floor. Pale blue, green and purple shades are ideal.
If your child has a favorite color they want in their room, try to compromise on a lighter version.
Avoid bright, vivid colors since these can be distracting to children during play or work and will keep them stimulated in the evenings when it’s time for rest.
3. Incorporate Sensory Lighting
Lighting in your child’s room should follow the same muted style as the color scheme. Children with autism are often extremely sensitive to light. Fluorescent lighting, in particular, can be very uncomfortable for children on the spectrum.
Choose incandescent lighting and opt for table and floor lamps rather than bright, overhead lights.
Even better, use lamps with dimmer switches so children can adjust their level of light as needed.
Take advantage of natural light as much as possible during the day and install blackout curtains to keep the room dark at night.
You can add a film to the window if your child gets distracted or distressed by the view.
4. Consider a New Mattress and Bedding
A quality mattress will support your child’s body as they sleep, reducing restlessness and promoting better spine health.
Choose an innerspring mattress that is relatively firm. Since children’s bodies change so rapidly, a supportive mattress is crucial for keeping stress off the spine as it grows.
For a child on the autism spectrum, bedding can make a huge difference between feeling restless and feeling comforted.
Weighted blankets, for example, can reduce anxiety and help children feel a general sense of calm.
According to Autism Parenting Magazine, weighted blankets https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/weighted-blankets-autism/provide gentle pressure to the body, which mimics the sensation of a hug.
5. Create an Organizational System
Messiness can be anxiety-provoking for kids with ASD. Everyday Health recommends donating things your child doesn’t use to cut down on unnecessary clutter.
Or, thanks to the booming second-hand economy here, you could sell your unwanted items and make some extra money to help pay for new organizational materials, like clear plastic bins.
You can use these to store and label your child’s toys — symbols or pictures can be used if your child has trouble reading.
You can also push furniture against the walls to create a comfortable play space in the middle of the room.
Add a tent, comfy chair, or floor pillows where your child can snuggle up when they need a calming retreat from sensory stimulation.
Aim to create a room where your child can thrive, exploring their passions and hobbies in a calm environment.
Taking care to design a sensory bedroom for a child with autism will also help them focus on schoolwork and receive rejuvenating quality sleep.
Of course, every kid is unique, so be sure to tailor your room design to your child’s desires and needs.