Make them feel at home
No matter how busy your family’s schedule is, your child with special needs still spends a lot of time at home: eating meals in the kitchen, hanging out in the family room, sleeping in their bedroom. They should feel comfortable there, but because kids with special needs are often hyper- or hypo-sensitive about sensory stimulation, it’s easy for them to feel overwhelmed in their environments — even in their own home.
Everything from the fluorescent lighting in your bathroom to the volume of a sibling’s video game to the scratchy sheets on their bed could be irritating to them. The smallest things can cause high amounts of anxiety or stress, or even trigger negative behaviors. But it doesn’t have to be that way — there are simple tricks to make over all the rooms in your home to give your child a sense of comfort and happiness.
“The three areas I recommend parents consider first are safety, lighting and distractions,” says Sarah Selznick, a pediatric occupational therapist from Virginia.
“Having a safe home means less worry and stress for you, while natural light and a limited amount of visual ‘clutter’ can create a sense of calm for your child.”
Ready to make some changes? Here’s a room-by-room overview of the best ways to create a more sensory-friendly home.