Our bedrooms should be a place of comfort where we can come to at the end of the day and find deep rest. Most children on the autism spectrum struggle to get quality sleep, and a lot of it has to do with how they experience sensory activity. That’s why it’s so important to take the necessary steps to make sure their bedroom is tailored to meet their needs. If your child is on the spectrum, here are a few essential tips for turning their bedroom into a restful environment.
Maintain Good Air Quality
First of all, you want to make sure the air that your child is breathing is clean. The inside of our homes are often more polluted than the outdoors, so ridding your child’s bedroom of as many pollutants as possible is critical. One way to improve indoor air quality is to use high efficiency air filters. These filters will stop harmful airborne particles, including allergens, from circulating throughout the room. Changing them out on time is paramount for maintaining clean air.
Understand Lighting Sensitivity
Lighting sources profoundly affect how we see the world and feel in any given environment. Children on the spectrum often have sensory hypersensitivity, which means that lighting from the sun, lamps, and fluorescent bulbs can affect their perception and sensory experience even more so than someone without autism.
If this hypersensitivity to light tends to overwhelm your child, it can cause a number of negative reactions, including:
That’s why focusing on the lighting in your child’s bedroom is essential.
Use Sensory-Friendly Lighting
First of all, try keeping your child’s exposure to fluorescent lights to a minimum. Many children on the spectrum are more vulnerable to the flicker in fluorescent lighting that most people can’t even detect, and it can result in headaches, eye strain, and severe anxiety. Also, it can be helpful to avoid the use of overhead lights in general in your child’s bedroom. Instead, opt for floor and desk lamps with dimmable LED or full-spectrum bulbs. For bedtime, red-hued nightlights can be a good way to provide light while also promoting sleep.
There are other factors that can affect the lighting in your child’s bedroom. For instance, hard floors can produce an intense glare, so putting in low-pile carpet or area rugs can help reduce the reflection from lights. Also, keeping electronic screens (e.g., TV, computer, etc.) away from windows can help to mitigate glare issues. Furthermore, blackout shades or curtains can help control the light coming in from outside.
Control Outside Sound
Sensory hypersensitivity also includes sound. This means that a child on the spectrum can be affected by sounds that may go unnoticed by you. If you live near a busy street or railroad tracks, dogs are often barking in the neighborhood, or outside noise comes in from other sources, such sounds can be overstimulating. White noise machines and soothing music at a low volume can help mitigate the effects. It’s also important to make sure the noise in your home (e.g., nearby rooms and hallways) is kept at a low level during bedtime hours.
Setting your child up for a good night’s sleep is essential to their health and well-being, and it all starts with their bedroom. Be sure to use the right air filters and change them out regularly to maintain good air quality. Understand how sensory hypersensitivity works, and take the necessary steps with the lighting and noise control in your child’s bedroom. Finally, do research to learn as much as you can about making your child’s bedroom the safe haven it should be.
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