Furniture for Autistic Children
Parents of autistic children have to find furniture that meets both the safety and sensory needs of their son or daughter.For new special needs parents, this task can seem overwhelming.
Here are seven tips to remember when picking furniture for autistic kids' bedrooms.
Check the durability of beds and dressers.
If your child is active or energetic, you might want to invest a little more in good, solid, safe pieces. Make sure the furniture is heavy enough so your child can't move it or turn it over and injure him or herself. Make sure knobs, rails, springs,and latches are secure and can withstand jumping, standing, pulling, or pounding. Also the pieces should be age appropriate so your child will be safe when alone.
- Avoid mirrors or furniture with glass.
Although the princess vanity with the mirror may look appealing, think of how (or if) your child will use it. If you are concerned that the mirror or glass furniture can be easily dislodged or broken, you should definitely exclude it from your child's bedroom. Many autistic children are fascinated with examining their reflection in the mirror. However, they may lack the proper respect for or knowledge about glass safety. If you have any doubts, err on the side of safety.
- Buy sensory enhancing furniture.
There are companies that specialize in constructing furniture for autistic individuals. Some make bean bag or foam chairs and sofas which envelop the seated person providing deep pressure and comfort. Other companies create juvenile and adult furniture where fabrics and textures are specially designed for those with sensory issues. If your special needs family member has sensory issues, these furniture pieces can help address or alleviate some of those problems.
- Avoid furniture with sharp edges.
Parents of autistic children report that their charges are often clumsy and uncoordinated. Furniture with sharp edges can pose great bodily harm. Look for furniture with rounded edges or extra padding to prevent injury to your child. For bed rails, buy the plastic covers which fit on the end. You might want to secure them with a permanent bonding agent or heavy tape. Buy rounded tables and chairs. Furniture with edges should be avoided if your child is unaware of his or her surroundings or is accident prone.
- Consider safety gates for their bedroom.
If your son or daughter elopes or wanders around the house, safety gates are an essential piece of furniture. Autistic children who like to escape or wander should have extra safety measures added to their bedrooms. Look for gates they cannot be easily opened or manipulated and have a sound sensor to alert you if opened or moved.
- Install safety latches on all door and cabinets.
Don't think these devices are only for curious toddlers. Safety latches keeps curious children of all ages from exploring in areas they shouldn't have access to. The family medicine cabinet and cleaning products pantry pose the most risk to an autistic child. Those areas should be kept secure at all times.
- Tie up or cut long cords on blinds,shades or curtains.
Curtains, blinds, and shades are usually added as decorative accoutrements to rooms. However they can be deadly to children. Each year children die from accidents involving blind and curtain cords. For an autistic child's bedroom, they should be cut or removed altogether.
Fun with Furniture
When parents are picking furniture for autistic kids' bedrooms it should be just as enjoyable as it would be with a typical child. The caveat: just make sure the room is both a comfortable and safe space.