You may recognize that an organized environment is healthier for your disabled child, but did you know there are certain interior designs that can help your loved one manage their disability better? It is important to remember that each individual is different, and you should take cues from your loved one to ensure the design used best suits their situation.
Use neutral colors on walls and floors. Bright colors can confuse and overwhelm individuals with Autism. Colors with natural references, such as blue for water and green for grass can be best suited to some individuals with Autism, while others prefer muted tones of pink. Muted and warm tones are known to have a calming affect on individuals because of the low amount of distraction they cause. If there is a pattern on the walls or floor, the individual will likely follow the pattern and become easily distracted.
Some individuals with Autism are hypersensitive to harsh artificial light. Fluorescent lighting should not be used because of its coloring affect and the sound the lights make. Soft artificial lighting should be used when necessary, and natural light should be taken advantage of with large windows. These windows can also provide views of nature which have a calming affect on many people who face Autism.
As much furniture as possible should be natural material such as wood or cork. These materials provide texture which can help individuals with Autism to identify and recognize the furniture. Pieces made of plastic or metal are often cold to the touch and have no texture.
Shelves and cabinets throughout the house should have doors in order to keep clutter and items out of view. Toys, books, and other lose items should be placed behind closed doors in order to reduce the amount of stimuli for those with Autism. Having these items out of sight of the individual can also stimulate verbal requests. If you have pictures on the wall, they should portray natural scenes, and should at the very least avoid bright contrasting colors.
Stray items should be kept organized in order to avoid tripping hazards. The home should have a simple layout, as a complicated layout can be difficult for a person with Down’s Syndrome.
Appliances should be simple and safe to use. They may have automatic turn-off settings and pictures to direct use rather than words to make it easier to understand. Modern and technologically advanced appliances can be difficult for an individual with Down’s Syndrome to understand and use.
Door knobs and cabinet knobs should be replaced with handles in order for ease of use for all individuals. Latches on fences and drawers should so allow for easy use by all individuals.
Plenty of light should be available in recreation areas along with hallways and stairways for safe walking. Objects which create glare, such as mirrors and metal objects should be removed from common areas. Windows should have adjustable blinds to allow for adjustment of natural light when necessary.
Light objects should be placed against dark backgrounds for easy location, such as doorknobs which contrast with the door and lightswitch plates which contrast with the wall. Colors of furniture along with walls and floors should be plain. Stripes, checks, and other designs can create confusion for those with low vision.
Stray objects along with furniture should be kept out of regular walkways to avoid tripping hazards. Items placed against walls along hallways should all be placed on the same wall to avoid collision with items on both walls. Stairs should have easy to use railings which extend from before the first stair to after the last stair. Stairs should also be a uniform height to avoid tripping hazards.
Interior design can have a large affect on the life of your disabled loved one. Depending on the disability they face, some of these techniques may help enhance their quality of life while at home.