--By Paul Deniken, Guest Blogger from DadKnowsDIY.com.
It’s important to accept that a normal home might not be safe or comfortable for a child with special needs. Most of the time, modifications must be made that ensure the child has the opportunity to be mobile and self-sufficient. “Home Modification” may sound like a scary, expensive task - but in reality there are plenty of reasonable, economical, and even eco-friendly ways to fit your house for someone with special needs.
Sensory modifications - Some children with special needs such as autism spectrum disorders have more sensory issues than true mobility, but can also require some unique home modifications. Some great tips for this include the removal of fluorescent lighting (you can replace them with the far more eco-friendly LED lights) and the use of soundproof materials for floors and walls. Colors are also important.
“Notice the colors your child pays the most attention to, and use those colors when you really want your child to pay attention to something. For example, you could decorate your home with very neutral colors, but use plates in their favorite color to make eating more interesting. Use learning toys with bright colors. Or pick a more exciting color for a comforting blanket or special stuffed animal,” according to NavigateLifeTexas.org. “Think about using sound-reducing materials in places where you spend a lot of time.”
Ramps and flooring - Many special needs are of the physical variety, and stairs can be a challenge for children with movement disorders, injury, or visual impairment. Even if your special needs child isn’t in a wheelchair, ramps might be essential to their improved mobility. Portable ramps are a great product because of their versatility.
A cool alternative to the large, sometimes expensive metal ramps used with wheelchairs to navigate living spaces, are lightweight mobility aids like the ones made by Adaptive Design. The company also specializes in art, recreation, self-care, and other products for children with impairments - all made with eco-friendly products like recycled cardboard.
If you have the resources and your special needs child needs access to different levels of your home, you can look into installing a stair glide mechanism or even a small elevator.
When it comes to flooring, it’s important to think about the material. According to Michael Sledd of Expertise.com, “Cork flooring is often very stylish looking and easy to clean, and while it is firm and level, it is more forgiving to falls than many of the other flooring types mentioned above. However, due to its soft nature, it is typically not recommended for wheelchairs due to wear issues from the amount of pressure exerted by the wheels.
Vinyl and linoleum are the cheapest and somewhat accessible. For homes that need to accommodate wheelchairs, you may want to avoid deep grooved tile.
Modified knobs, handles, and railings - Replacing traditional doorknobs, cabinet, and drawer handles with easier-to-pull levers can help with accessibility around the home. Providing extra grips, handrails, and bars around stairs, bathrooms, and kitchens can also help those with a disability better navigate the home.
Trackers - Though it might be a controversial topic for some, many parents of children with special needs employ GPS trackers to make sure they always know what their child is up to and where they are. Here’s a good write-up on some of the best services available.
Accessibility Technology - Check out the Accessible Technology Coalition’s archives for a list of assistive technologies organized by age, type of disability, and more. There are so many products for the home that can make life easier for kids with disabilities and their caretakers.
For more ideas on how to make your home safe for all children, and to find great home projects, visit DadKnowsDIY.com.
By Trevor Pacelli
In the horror movie, Unfriended, from 2015, the execution and approach is typical at best, but it addresses one of the most important subjects of horror in our technological society today--suicide--which is currently the third leading cause of death for children aged 15-19. Cyberbullying continues to be a deathly serious issue that is attacking our adolescent generation, and Unfriended’s message is very clear: What’s put online stays online.
Our teens today need to understand the dangers of cyberbullying, especially when one considers the threat it has on kids with autism.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #65: Every School Has a Big Bully.
Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids, Lesson #29: Will Kids Make Fun of Him?
We already know that bullying is an undeniable threat to kids in schools all across the globe, and it would be common knowledge to comprehend the higher risk it has on any children with developmental disorders.
I can tell you this: I have been told that my autism was obvious, I have been told that I have no friends, I have been told that no one likes me, and I have been sweet-talked so that I could be made the butt of everyone’s jokes. Virtually all the bullying that has been done to me has been done in person.
While I personally have no recollection of someone harassing me over Facebook or other social media, it does happen all over, especially with autistic students, and it is a lot more common than you may realize.
The iSafe Foundation has estimated that more than 33% of teens have experienced cyberthreats, 25% of teens have experienced these threats repeatedly, and cyberbullying is far more common with girls than with boys. Even worse, only one out of 10 victims report these threats to their parents. Of all the teens that become easy targets for online threats and cruel comments, imagine how many of those victims are on the autism spectrum?
Autism is an instant shut-off from the expected personality traits of the average teenager. In high schools, especially for today’s youth, everyone is expected to have perfect hair, skin, clothing, be the best at whichever sport they play, be the life at every party they attend, hold a leadership position for the school council, get the most spirited during each of the spirit weeks, and most importantly, be the most up to date about what goes on with the rest of the students at school, by means of social media. If anyone is not in that list of criteria, they become easy cyberbullying targets.
Based on what I remembered in my high school years, there was always an isolated group of students with mental disorders who had special teachers with them and rarely interacted with the other students. These were students who simply developed more slowly and needed more aid in learning in a separate setting from the typical classroom. What made me stand out from the rest of them was that I still had the capability of learning in a traditional classroom setting, and I also had an active Facebook profile that I could comprehend the usage of.
It meant that I was at a level high enough for students to pick on me and not look like a jerk to their clique.
This explains why those with autism or Asperger’s are at such a high risk of bullying in all forms. As one of the Six-Word Lessons authors summarizes:
Six-Word Lessons on Female Asperger Syndrome, Lesson #52: Aspies Don’t Possess Inherent Social Skills.
Kids will do anything to make themselves feel better than something they don’t understand, even if it means drawing another girl to suicide by sending her Facebook messages saying she’s fat, ugly, and useless. They even could go as far as telling a boy with autism that he will never have friends or get married.
If you are a parent, you may hate hearing that this could be happening to your autistic teenage child, but it’s most likely that this is the case. Therefore, due to the seriousness of this issue, here are not three but four applications for you:
For more information and resources on bullying prevention, check out this page on MomLovesBest.
Thanks so much for your time in reading! My book Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic is available on Amazon, Kindle, and iBooks. Be sure to subscribe to my site for more updates on reviews like this.
--By Trevor Pacelli, an autistic author who loves to talk about movies. Click here for the full movie review of Unfriended and more reviews with autism lessons.
Thanks to Guest Blogger Sean Morris of LearnFit.org.
Having a fun--and safe--summer with children can be a bit overwhelming; there are so many things to consider, including water safety, traveling, and how to fill up those long hours during the day when they’re not in school. For parents of children on the autism spectrum, summer can be especially challenging in that there are some things you have to think about in a different way.
While every child is different and has their own unique needs, with a bit of planning and organization, summer can be relaxing and fun for you, too. The trick is to not let yourself get overwhelmed, and you can achieve this by making lists, communicating with family members about your plans, and taking care of yourself so that you’re rested and able to handle anything that comes your way.
Inspiration for Life with Autism
This blog has a variety of articles about people living life with autism, and topics and ideas that can help in the journey. Guest bloggers are welcome. Inspired by Trevor, a young adult film critic, photographer and college graduate on the autism spectrum.