For children who are on the autism spectrum, daily life can present unique challenges. From overwhelming sights and sounds to other sensory disturbances, so many things can impact your child’s comfort. Fortunately, there are ways to make home life more comfortable and easier to manage—without spending a lot of money.
Savings Strategies for Must-Have Items
From weighted blankets to help with sensory issues to décor that’s pleasing to the eye, lots of autism-friendly products are pricey. But thankfully, you can find discounts on virtually every home and specialty item out there. One of the best ways to save is with online coupons and by visiting deal sites before making a purchase. This way, you can get everything you need for your child to thrive, without going over budget.
And as Child Mind Institute explains, many children’s sensory processing issues improve over time. That means you may need to rework your setup throughout your child’s adolescence. That also means other kids will outgrow items routinely, so check in with moms and dads you know for used equipment.
Set Up a Sensory-Friendly Space
For most children with symptoms on the autism spectrum, sensory overload is a significant challenge. Anything from loud noises to rough fabrics to bright lights can cause overstimulation. To help prevent your child from experiencing such overloads, consider setting up an especially sensory-friendly space in your home. Whether it’s one room or multiple, here are components you may want to implement.
Swap Out Light Bulbs
As ArchDaily points out, many children on the spectrum find bright lights distracting and even upsetting. A budget-friendly fix is to change out light bulbs for more soothing lighting. If your light fixture has multiple bulbs, removing one or more can be a free fix.
You may also consider replacing light fixtures with dimmable features if your budget allows. Either way, dimmer lights or switches can help relieve light sensitivity and place control in the child’s hands.
Other fun and sensory-friendly lighting options include a bubble lamp (such as an old-school lava lamp) or another operable lighting that kids can adjust on their own.
Add an Element of Movement
For children who enjoy stimulation from physical movement, or vestibular input, consider bringing in equipment that is safe and easy to use. A small trampoline, rocking chair, or exercise ball can make the perfect outlet for children of all ages to reap the benefits of such movement.
You can also add weighted pads, cushions, or other materials to provide proprioceptive input. Verywell Health explains proprioception involves body orientation and movement, and governs many nerve interactions in both neurotypical and neurodivergent people.
Lifting, pushing, and pulling can be particularly therapeutic for children with autism. Weighted products can also provide deep pressure, which many children with autism benefit from. You can purchase a weighted blanket, but these tend to be expensive. An alternative is creating your own weighted item—such as a bag or pillow—with household items and a bit of sewing.
Don’t Forget About Sound
Especially for noisier neighborhoods—or children who are particularly sensitive to sound—music or background noise is essential in your space. Adding background noise can be as simple as installing a white noise or nature sounds app on your smartphone or as complex as wiring in speakers.
You may also choose to set up a radio in your child’s space so that they can adjust the sound level to their preferences.
Choose Flooring That’s Sensory-Sensitive
While every child with autism is different, the fact remains that their physical perception is often sensitive. That means something as simple as walking on a textured floor can either cause frustration or be reassuring.
Consider what is most suitable for your child and aim to swap out rugs or other floor coverings in the spaces they spend the most time in. Rugs are an inexpensive way to change your home’s décor, and many are washable as well.
Sensory integration into your home can be a challenge, especially on a budget. But fortunately, there are many ways to make the environment one in which your child can thrive. And, the best part is that it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
Photo via Pixabay
~ By Lin Buckner