Parents with autism spectrum disorder face so many challenges. They may have to overcome their sensory overstimulation in order to keep up with household chores or their children. People they encounter might place the burden of stigma on the parent as they misunderstand autism disorder. However, many parents find that their autism actually has some benefits. They have insight and are more empathetic toward their children when they struggle with emotions. Or they find that while they are caring for their kids they are able to “hyperfocus” on the little ones. The point is, parents with autism have struggles and strengths just like any other parent.
To make life easier, many parents with autism spectrum disorder find that modifying the home in certain ways makes it easier to move around and get things done.
Replace the Floors - If you have carpets, replacing them with hardwood, tile or concrete is a safe bet. Not only are they easier to keep clean, but they also reduce the risk of slips and falls for both children and parents. They are also less likely to sustain damage from unruly kids because they are strong and durable. Finally, hard surface floors contribute to better indoor air quality, which means less irritating allergens and triggering odors for parents with sensory processing issues.
Install Smart Lighting - Parents with autism may have a lighting system that fits their needs now, but those needs may change with kids. Smart lighting systems have many benefits for homeowners. They allow you to turn lights on and off remotely, which can save money on electricity when you forget to turn the lamp off before heading out the door. They can also make your home more secure as lights going on and off are a clear indicator to burglars that the house is occupied and therefore shouldn’t be targeted.
Smart light bulbs also tend to live longer, which is better for the environment. But for parents with sensory issues, smart lighting means so much more than saving money on electricity and light bulbs -- it gives these parents control over the visual stimuli within their environment. Smart lighting systems make it easy to go from natural light to sensory mood lighting that calms and soothes.
Make Bathrooms Safer - The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house. The high humidity and slick surfaces are perfect for slips and falls. It’s easy to forget about the water temperature and end up scalding yourself. Furthermore, getting up and down to bathe or use the toilet becomes more and more difficult as we age. To make the bathroom safer for kids and adults alike:
- Install grab bars by the tub and toilet. Grab bars are easy to install yourself and come in various shapes and sizes. Screw grab bars directly into a wall stud and never use towel bars in place of models designed to hold your full weight.
Consider upgrading to a walk-in tub that has an easy access door and a bench for sitting.
- Clearly label water faucets for hot and cold and install an anti-scald valve for the shower.
Parents with autism face many struggles, but their disorder can also give them special insight that helps them raise healthy and happy children. To make life simpler, it helps to modify the home in certain ways to create a safe and comforting atmosphere. Hard surface floors are safer and easier to maintain, but they also keep the indoor air quality purer for less irritation. Smart lighting systems are an investment, but they save money and make it easier to create sensory mood lighting. Finally, the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house. Adding grab bars, a walk-in tub, and anti-scald valves can keep bathtime fun and safe.
Ashley Taylor, DisabledParents.org