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6 Ways to Create an Autism-Friendly Environment

It is so important to create an autism-friendly environment for children because they feel things more strongly than we do. For those of us who have nonverbal kiddos, it can be hard to figure out what they want and need.

That’s why setting up an autism-friendly environment is crucial. Because if they can’t tell us, then we have to try to set up our environment to help them thrive.

But how to do create an autism-friendly environment? You have to take your child’s uniqueness into account, but here are 6 basic ways to create an environment that is autism friendly.

How to Create an Autism-Friendly Environment

You have to understand your child’s unique needs and preferences to really create an environment that they can thrive in. Make sure you regularly assess and adjust to your child’s ever evolving needs and wants.

My son used to not care about having a comfy place to sit, but now he has a designated shark pillow he sits on and plays on to decompress after a long day. He used to hate being covered up, but as he grew up, we noticed he loves a good snuggly blanket.

It’s just some small ways we had to adjust to his sensory needs to make him happy (just to give you some ideas). You can also reach out to local autism communities to get ideas and share your experiences with people who understand where you’re coming from. You can get all sorts of ideas from fellow parents and caregivers!

6 Ways to Create an Autism-Friendly Environment

1. Establish Clear Routines

Autistic children often thrive when they’re given structured routines. It’s best to create a schedule that includes all the activities for the day. From waking up to bedtime and all that happens in between. Predictability can make them feel secure.

2. Provide Visual Supports

Visual supports are truly powerful tools to aid you in communicating with your child and foster understanding with them. Find visual schedules, charts, or social stories that not only help your child navigate everyday activities, but also transitions and the dreaded schedule change. Visual aids are great for clarity and reduce anxiety through their visual representation of what’s expected.

3. Sensory-Friendly Spaces

Try to designate spaces in your home to cater to your kiddo’s sensory needs. Remember to consider lighting, noise levels, and even textures. Our kids need a quiet area where they can retreat when they feel overwhelmed or start to have a meltdown. You can even add in sensory-friendly tools like weighted blankets, fidget toys, or sensory-friendly furniture.

My son finds spinning and rocking soothing, so we got him a sensory-friendly spinning chair and a rocker. You can even create a Calming Corner that you put soft cushions, dim lighting, and items that provide gentle tactile stimulation (like squeeze toys or search gentle tactile toys on Amazon!).

Need more help with creating a sensory-friendly environment? “How to Create an Autism-Friendly Environment” shows all the sensory questions you should ask yourself when creating an autism-friendly environment.

I also have Calming Breathing Exercises for Anxiety for Kids that you can incorporate into your Calming Corner.

4. Effective Communication Strategies

We know our kiddos best, so we can tailor communication to our child’s needs. Visual communication tools are always helpful and may be the best way to communicate with your child. I know it can be hard sometimes, but we have to be patient.

When communicating verbally, use clear and concise language. Remember to give time for information processing. Look for nonverbal cues and use those to encourage communication that makes your child feel comfortable.

Need to start with basic communication? Check out my Printable Basic Communication Cards on Etsy!

5. Collaborate with Therapists and Teachers

Seek out your child’s speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and teachers to get input on strategies you can implement at home. Ask for updates on your child’s progress, especially when you’re renewing their IEP, and ask for recommendations as your child progresses. This way you can adjust your home environment to better support your kiddo’s developmental goals.

6. Promote Flexibility and Independence

I know, I said we need routines, and those are important, but we also need to allow for flexibility. Life won’t always be predictable, so it’s smart to be open to adapting schedules when necessary and even let them choose when possible. Encourage your child to do activities that promote independence. This can include self-care tasks or letting them make decisions.

I also have some fun ideas that promote independence and problem solving in 9 Activities to Encourage Problem Solving in Autistic Kids.

Conclusion

Creating an autism-friendly environment is more than having neutral colors and dim lighting (although that helps some). You need areas they can decompress in and ways to communicate effectively.

You want to provide a routine, stable, and secure environment that also fosters independence so they can thrive now and when they get older. That’s what 6 ways I laid out to create an autism-friendly environment will help you do!

What do you think of my 6 suggestions? Are you going to incorporate any of them for your child? Maybe you already have an amazing autism-friendly environment.

I’d love for you to comment and tell me all about it! I love connecting so never hesitate to reach out to me :).

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