Designing for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder



writing-autism

I stumbled upon Medina Sam from MK Kids Interiors, a UK based interior designer, via social media a while ago and I have been following her work and blog since then. One of the amazing services she offers is an interior design service specifically for Autistic children. This is something new to me, and I think it is an amazing service to offer. It was her blog post that made me write this piece and although I still need to do a lot of research on the topic it would be great to get awareness out there and I will definitely be doing a follow-up post, with hopefully more local service providers and information.

Here are some tips from Medina to design a fitting room for a child with ASD: Click here for the blog post.

“In designing a room for your child with ASD:

1. Create a simple layout of the space, one that will give your child easy access to the things he/she will need.  If you have limited space, where your child will use one room for sleeping, playing and studying, by all means zone the space. Define the sleeping area, the pay area and the study space. This is essential if you want your child to sleep at night, if the toys are visible, these will stimulate your child’s mind for play. It may be worth incorporating labels or visual aids to help your child identify and find the things he/she may need.

2. Avoid reflective surfaces that magnify sound, I would suggest carpets or a large rug, if you have hard floors. Ensure the walls are insulated well for good acoustics, to avoid echoing and to keep sound out. Noise has the ability to raise stress levels, interrupt sleep and reduce the quality of life.

3. Natural light is good but there is a need for appropriate blackout blinds or curtains to control the glare of the sunshine in the day and street lights at night. Lighting needs to be soft and controlled. Avoid fluorescent and flickering lights in your child’s room/ environment. Dimmer switches are an excellent way to control lighting in the room.

4. Colour is another important factor when designing a space for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Avoid bright colours such as reds, oranges and yellows, such colours are not suitable for children with ASD, they are stimulating colours.  Research has shown that babies cry more when surrounded by yellow. Use subtle soft colours such as blues, pinks and greys.

5. Avoid large areas of stripes or busy patterns, children with autism usually find them quite disturbing. Where possible use solid furniture and secure them to the walls or floor, to avoid your child removing and using furniture as a weapon.

When hiring a designer, it is important that you provide them with a thorough brief and detail the daily lifestyle of you and your child. This is so they can create the ideal space that will help in your daily living and help improve your child’s quality of life.

At MK Kids Interiors we work with parents/carers and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to design suitable spaces for their daily use.”

MK Kids Interiors works with professionals who work with autistic children on a daily basis in order to provide you with the best possible interior design solution to their clients.

Madina also talks about Christopher Beaver from GA architects, also UK based, as “the master of designing buildings for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder”. They are one of very few architects specializing in the design of environments for children and adults with ASD and other learning difficulties. They have some wonderful information on their website too.

Another interesting fact about kids with ASD and special needs is that they react very well to iPads.  Stacey Vee, a journalist, mother of a special needs child a.k.a “Lionheart”, and writer of the award-winning blog Living Lionheart {really worth a read}, is the drive behind #iPadsforLionhearts. They ask that, when upgrading their iPads, people donate the old iPad to this charity that distributes them to families with a child with autism, on their waiting list. Please read more about the #iPadsforLionhearts charity here, and please keep them in mind the next time you upgrade.

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Please feel free to share any other service providers that you know of that is based in South Africa, that supply services to special needs kids or kids with ASD.

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{Mariette}