10 Awesome Bedroom Ideas for Kids with Autism

October 18, 2017 4 Comments

autism bedroom design blog post

It is estimated that over 80% of children with autism experience difficulties with sleep. If you’ve read our Ultimate Guide to Improving Sleep, you’re likely on your way to considering how to best support your child’s own sleep habits.

Looking at your child’s bedroom environment may offer some insights and potential solutions.

Well-designed bedrooms for children with autism appeal to functionality, meet sensory needs, provide safety reassurance, and promote independence. But just because there’s a lot to consider, doesn’t mean your child’s bedroom can’t be cute and fun too!

10 Awesome Autism Bedroom Design Ideas

1) Create Zones


autism bedroomUnless you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated play space in your home, your child’s bedroom is likely packed full of toys, stuffed animals, games, and collectibles.

Consider defining spaces within your child’s room for play, sleep, work, and storage so you can contain the potential chaos and further identify behavioral expectations.

2) Storage Ideas

storage for bedroomClear stackable drawers can be easily labeled with pictures, symbols, or words according to your child’s needs.Your child’s bedroom should be a place to be calm, relax, and sleep when needed. It’s hard to decompress when there is clutter and mess surrounding your quiet space, so if it’s too difficult to limit the “stuff,” try to contain it with functional storage options.

Make your storage solutions simple to foster independence with cleaning up and accessing materials when needed. Read moreabout how organization promotes executive functioning, reduces anxiety, and fosters independence.

  • Soft-sided cubes are safe ways to contain stuffed animals or little figurines. We love these 3-Sprout bins!
  • Underbed storage drawers keep more “stuff” out of sight and free up floor space to play
  • Consider a locked closet for materials, toys, or breakables that pose a potential safety risk when your child is unattended. This is especially important for kids who awaken at night.
  • Swoop bags, as featured on Wolf+Friends, are another accessible, portable, and lightweight way to contain toys with small pieces (like Legos).

3) Lighting

If you haven’t read our blog article on how lighting can impact your child’s sensory system, do! You’ll look at your child’s bedroom through a different lens - so to speak. Consider the following design ideas to adjust for the light influences in your child’s room:

  • Blackout shades or curtains
  • Red-hued night lights
  • Carpeting or low-pile rugs reduce glare
  • Desk or floor lamps near work areas

4) Bedding

autism-weighted-blanket

This is when your child’s sensory preferences are most important to keep in mind. Choose fabrics that appeal to him and are soft and snuggly: cotton, flannel, sateen, or t-shirt materials. Consider patterns and prints that are fun but not overly stimulating.

Weighted blankets and heavy down comforters can support sleep patterns because they provide deep touch pressure sensory input. For more information on weighted blanket research, check out this article.

5) Seating

autism-swingIf you’ve got a multi-tasking bedroom, be sure to include a kid-size table/desk and chair set to allow for tabletop play, coloring, and drawing. Consider a soft place to crash and an active seating option like a t-stool, ball chair, or small rocking chair that will allow your sensory kiddo to move or rock while they sit.  

Check out the Harkla sensory pod swing and some active seating options here.


6) Sensory deprivation area

Whether it’s a bed tent, a tee-pee in the corner, or a canopy over a pile of soft pillows, it is important to provide your child with a sensory deprivation area.

This may or may not be located in your child’s bedroom, but it is possible to include elements in their sleeping space. A sensory deprivation area could include: soft pillows, noise-canceling headphones, preferred stim toys and/or fidget tools, and a weighted lap pad. This space promotes self-regulation and reorganization. 

7) Color Scheme

color-paint

We all love bright, fun colors for kids but sometimes those primary rainbow colors aren’t exactly promoting calm and tranquility. There is a psychology behind why we choose the colors we surround ourselves with -- and why we should avoid color placement in certain situations.

For example, did you know that yellow is the color most likely to cause eye strain and visual fatigue? If light and visual sensitivity is a consideration for your child, consider a darker hue like gray, navy, soft blue, or violet that absorb more light instead of reflecting it.

Red evokes strong emotions, while blues and greens are associated with calm and tranquility. If you’ve got your heart set on hot pink, perhaps consider toning it down a few notches on the color swatch and neutralizing the rest of your child’s bedroom design.

8) Mattress

autism-bed

 

Bed designs can be basic or geared to your child’s interests - but the mattress should be a consideration.

Memory foam, spring, or hybrid mattresses all offer different sensory experiences. If you’ve got a restless sleeper, or a child who is prone to jumping on his springy bed, perhaps consider a hybrid mattress for a less alerting and more forgiving surface. Memory foam, while great for some, can give sleepers a ‘sinking’ sensation that some kids may not respond well to.

9) Sounds

The noises around us can be alerting, over stimulating, irritating, or startling. If your child’s room is near a busy street, the neighbor’s barking dog, or busy hallway in your home, the stimulation from these outside sources is something to consider. A white noise machine or low-playing music can help. 

10) Alarm Clock

You’ve gotten your little one all set up for sleep success...but it’s likely not solving all of his sleep/wake problems! As his bedtime routines and circadian rhythms adjust, try a smart alarm clock designed with kids in mind.

If your child has trouble knowing when it’s okay to get up for the day, check out the OK to Wake Alarm Clock. For those kids who need a night light and some help waking in the morning, try the Wake Up Light that gradually brightens as morning approaches.

Takeaways

colorful bedroom

Sensory-informed bedroom design is becoming more mainstream. Companies like Land of Nod and Target are consulting with experts to find kid-friendly, sensory-aware products that meet a diverse population with differing needs.

In fact, Land of Nod just partnered with Wolf+Friends to showcase sensory-minded design tips for parents!  For more information on sleep issues and autism, be sure to check out the Harkla blog for more tips and tricks.

About the Author

Alescia Ford-Lanza

Alescia Ford-Lanza MS OTR/L, ATP is an Occupational Therapist and Assistive Technology Practitioner with over 15 years of pediatric experience. She specializes in educationally-relevant interventions with a focus on sensory integration and assistive technology supports to learning. Alescia strives to help children by fostering a love of learning and supports families with her parent-friendly, informative blog posts. Alescia founded Adapt & Learn, LLC on the mission that children of all abilities can play, learn, adapt, and develop with the right therapeutic, family, and educational supports. You can get more information on Alescia and her practice at www.adaptandlearn.com.


4 Responses

Nicole
Nicole

March 28, 2019

Hi Stella,

We’re so glad you found this post helpful!

Take care,
Nicole
Harkla Happiness Ninja

Nicole
Nicole

March 28, 2019

Hi Onita,

I really admire you for the effort you’re putting into accommodating your nephew. We have other articles on our blog about creating a sensory space for your child. Also, please be sure to read our articles about how to support the needs of kids with autism, SPD, and other diagnoses. Feel free to contact us directly if you have more questions!

All the best,
Nicole
Harkla Happiness Ninja

Onita
Onita

March 28, 2019

Hello,
My name is Onita, I have a autistic nephew he is 9 years old. My mother who recently passed used to primarily take care of him and I would provide whatever help and assistance she needed. I am moving in about 3 months and my nephew will be going with me. I want to make sure his space (bedroom) is well equipt currently he doesnt really have a space all his own currently, he used to sleep in the same room with my mom etc. But now he will have his own room and I want it to be a space he will enjoy. I saw some of the tips you had and I have gotten the ebooks sent to my email. Any additional info will be helpful. I will be setting up speech therapy so he will be able to communicate his needs better. He does have a ipad where he uses the program to say what he wants.

Stella Gough
Stella Gough

January 29, 2019

I read your post. It’s quite very interesting and informative.I usually purchase the furniture for my home and office from get.furniture at an affordable price. They provide the best quality of products and quick services on time. Thanks for this lovely post.

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