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This article is mommy approved by Miriam Slozberg, mother of two.
Parents of children that have an autism spectrum disorder are quite stressed out as it is! They are busy advocating for their kids, dealing with stressful behaviors, and parents have a hard time coping with the emotional aspects of having a child with special needs.
Parenting is tough but parenting a child with autism or any other disability makes the job even harder.
On top of that, parents and kids on the spectrum do not often get a good night’s rest which makes the ordeal even more challenging. However, the great news is that there are effective methods that can drastically help children on the autism spectrum and their parents get a good night’s sleep.
It involves creating the perfect environment in the autistic child’s bedroom. Let’s find out how the 10 ways to decorate an autistic child’s bedroom for a peaceful night’s sleep right now.
Kids on the autism spectrum have sensory issues. This means that colors, textures, tastes, and smells that would not necessarily be bothersome to those who are typical would overwhelm anyone on the autism spectrum.
Primary colors, as well as harsh patterns such as stripes, as well as prints and borders, will overwhelm the autistic child. This is why the color scheme in the bedroom must be calming and soothing colors.
Colors such a light blue, light pink, muted purple, and soft green are what kids on the autism spectrum are not bothered by. And they even prefer it. When you are decorating the child’s room, stick to those colors and stay away from distracting and overwhelming patterns.
- Light blue #ADD8E6
- Light pink #F4C2C2
- Purple #B19CD9
- Soft Green #BCE5C6
Bed Tents Are Important
Children with autism become overwhelmed easily by open spaces and it does not matter how small or large their bedroom happens to be. They will not feel secure in an open bed because they are easily overstimulated and will not sleep easily or at all if they are not feeling secure and calm in an open bed.
Bed tents provide a secure, enclosed, non-stimulating, and calming atmosphere for the affected child and because of that, the child will have a much easier time falling asleep. We’ve compiled a list of the best bed tents for young children.
Weighted Blankets Provide The Comfort For The Child
Children with autism are full of boundless energy and this also affects them during the night. In addition to having soft colors in the bedroom and a bed tent, a weighted blanket is highly recommended to help the child fall asleep easier.
Children and adults with autism have proprioceptive or tractile dysfunction which means they will benefit from extra pressure that is on them because it is soothing.
Weighted blankets are designed for individuals with proprioceptive dysfunction as it will get them into a calm state while it is covering them. It will help them fall asleep quicker.
On another note for the same reason, weighted lap pads provide the same function for the day time which helps them calm down and to slow down in order for them to read and do their work without being distracted.
You are already quite aware of how children with autism have a difficult time with sensory issues which means bright lights would irritate, overwhelm, and overstimulate them. That would only bring on anxiety, meltdowns and if their bedrooms have bright lights, then they will not fall asleep.
Even if the bright overhead light was turned off right at bedtime, the effects from the sensory overload would have caused them to become quite overstimulated.
At the same time, children with autism, like their typical peers would be afraid of the dark. This is why a nightlight is a must-have in an autistic child’s bedroom. The most recommended type of nightlight is one with a red-hued bulb.
This means to have the nightlight on and keep the rest of the lighting on a low level while getting the child ready for bed. A tiny beam of light in addition to being secured in a bed tent underneath the weighted blanket will help the child fall asleep quickly.
White Noise Machine
White noise machines are able to give off white noise which is a soothing sound frequency that helps block off stimuli from the outside. This helps to slow down active minds and it has the same effect on children with autism as it does for adults that are struggling with insomnia due to having an active mind.
A white noise machine most definitely is a very important component while designing the autistic child’s bedroom.
Storage Units Are Important To Set Up
Kids with autism do not react well to clutter and disorganization because it can be quite overstimulating. This is why when you are designing an autistic child’s room, you will want to make sure that you have enough bins and boxes for toys, clothing, and other apparatus.
This way, the clutter will be kept to a minimum and the boxes and bins will need to be stored in a closet or in another room.
If you are finding that there are too many objects that the child does not need, you can either sell, donate, or junk them. Besides, keeping clutter to a minimum is great advice for everyone because even for typical individuals it can be distracting and overwhelming.
Besides, you will want to have enough space that is not occupied.
Proper Insulation Will Help
The autistic child is sensitive to light and sound, and this is why installing proper insulation is highly recommended. Too much light and sound will be overstimulating to the child and will, therefore, keep him or her awake.
This means installing carpeting that is thick, as well as using a blackout curtain in the bedroom. Creaky doors will need some oiling, and walls need to be insulated as well. Anything that can help drown out the sound and lighting will keep the child calm.
A Firm Mattress Increases The Chances Of A Good Night’s Sleep
If the child’s mattress is too saggy then that will only be disruptive to him or her and can easily cause the child not to sleep properly. You want to make sure that the child’s mattress is strong and firm, but also not uncomfortably hard. It must consist of a box spring but not a bed frame. A firm and flat mattress will help the child feel comfortable in his or her own bed.
Body Pillows Will Keep The Child Comfortable
Kids with autism often have digestive problems and this is why a body pillow is an important recommendation. It will help encourage tummy or side sleeping which can assist with digestion and breathing.
They may also find it comfortable and calming because of being encased in the body pillow as that is a sensory factor that helps them feel safe.
Keep The Bedroom Safe
This last but very important part is a difficult fact of autism, especially in profound or complex cases when other neurological disorders such as ADHD are tied into it. However, if the child is prone to meltdowns and if self-injurious behavior is a serious concern.
You will want to make sure that the bedroom is safe for the child. This means to make sure that the walls are made with softer material such as cork or to place padding on the walls to prevent any injury from happening.
Additionally, the furniture will need to be extra durable so that no damage is done to it. However, keep the edges safe by placing foam pieces on them to prevent any injury from happening.
This also means to keep electric outlets covered. Unfortunately, in order to create the safest environment for the child with autism, you will have to go back to childproofing basics.
Those are the 10 important and effective ways to design the autistic child’s bedroom so it is a sensory-friendly that will maximize the chances of the child going to sleep. There are other things to do in order to help the autistic child have a good night’s sleep each night. Those are:
By only giving the child with autism pajamas that are made with materials such as cotton that will not be bothersome and to make sure all tags are completely removed.
- Do not allow the child to have any screen time an hour before bed, or be sure to keep the blue light filtered or else it will disrupt the child as well. Blue light also decreases melatonin production which will prevent anyone from having a good night’s sleep.
- Keep the child on a routine each night and keep bedtime at the same time nightly.
- Massage the child for a half hour before bed and after bath time as that will help calm the child down and get him or her drowsy for sleep.
- Give the child Omega 3 oil supplements during the day and keep sugar and caffeine consumption to a minimum as those ingredients will disrupt sleep as well.
By utilizing these tips while creating a sensory-friendly bedroom for the autistic child, your child will have many nights of excellent sleep – and so will you!
Miriam Slozberg is a Canadian author, blogger, and mom to 2 kids. One had combined autism and ADHD. After years of trialing different forms of therapy, she learned how to best support her son. She writes on publications such as BabyGaga.com. She also is a mental health advocate as she lives with ADHD and has experienced depression.