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Rooms for the Special Ones Series Part 1: Sweet Dreams for the Special Ones

Introduction


A house is a necessity for every family in order to shelter themselves from nature. It also becomes a suitable place for families to spend quality time together enjoying play with each other, helping to cook and others. However, having special needs children makes it more difficult for parents to build a perfect home for all, especially when there are specific limitations that need to be considered in selecting the best design possible for their home. In fact, special needs children specifically need rehabilitation in their own home for a specific amount of time from their acute phase instantaneously following recognition of a health condition through the maintenance phases. Rehabilitation is crucial in identifying the needs and problems of the children and connecting those problems to significant factors of person and environment, defining its objective, planning and implementing methods and measures and evaluating the results. Freedom, independence and security are essential keys in house accessibility for the disabled as each element plays their part in making the house comfortable for the disabled to live in.


There’s nothing as important to the children’s comfort in their home as much as the bedroom. The bedroom plays its part in providing any children with the comfort of learning something new, play and relaxing on their beds. However, when it comes to parents with special children, there are some tips they can utilize in decorating and arranging furniture and kids’ belongings to fulfill their special needs children’s accessibility.


Physical Disabilities


For children with physical disabilities, accessibility is the key to the preferable room for children with physical disabilities. Parents need to plan their physically disabled children’s bedroom so that the children are able to reach their shelves, closets and drawers and maneuver around the room easier.




Source: https://interiordesign.lovetoknow.com/Bedroom_Design_for_Children_with_Special_Needs


There are some common sense adjustments parents should utilize in fulfilling the accessibility requirements.


  • The room should include long, horizontal shelves instead of tall, vertical characteristics to store books and toys for children to be easier to take.


Source: http://www.universaldesignstyle.com/siple-house-wheelchair-accessible-house/


  • If the children have difficulty with door knobs, replacing traditional knobs with door levers. However, if the children have difficulty using levers, consider placing the door on swing hinges to make it easier for children to push the door or even building a pocket door.


Source: https://www.constructionspecifier.com/understanding-new-accessibility-requirements-for-doors/



Source: https://www.hdis.com/expandable-door-hinge


  • Room planners need to ensure that the light switches should be moved down to a level your physically disabled child can reach or consider motion sensor light as well for easier access for when they are able to turn off or on the lights.


Source: https://idisrupted.com/how-do-smart-light-switches-work/


For any children who were bound by a wheelchair due to their disability, their parents need to ensure that they can move easily around the room and when they enter and exit. This can be done by ensuring that the bedroom door must not block the access to the room while swinging open. Meanwhile, tables and desks inside the bedroom need to be tall and deep enough to fit their wheelchairs and for comfort. Children with wheelchairs usually do not have much space to sit beneath the table so they need to ensure that they can fit comfortably to sit. Adjustable legs on the table is also recommended to adjust in providing comfort to children while sitting.


In addition, the overall size of the furniture needs to be suitable for the children’s accessibility. For example, the children’s bed size needs to fit the wheelchair when the child is entering his or her room so that the bed would not budge with the door beside the bed if the bed is placed that way. Also, there should be a compartment which has sufficient enough space in order to fit the wheelchair or cane that the children used. For example, a special drawer to store the wheelchairs and canes they have.


Visual Impairments


Children with visual impairments will have a lot of difficulty navigating the whole bedroom because of their impairments in their sight ability. For example, complications about the color of the entire room which will make navigating the whole bedroom difficult. Therefore, some of the ways to alleviate this problem are:


  • Organize the room in reducing the clutter to help the children navigate the space a lot easier. The example below is NOT the room preferable for the visually impaired children due to the room being too cluttered.


Source: https://www.theseanamethod.com/2016/10/when-you-cant-see-the-floor/


  • The bed should be set in a direct path to the door as the visually impaired children are able to navigate through the bed and to prevent any potential slip ups when entering the bed room.



Source: https://www.stephaniewilliamsdesigns.com/blog/2019/5/24/designing-for-visually-impaired-and-wheelchair-user


  • Furthermore, parents should recommend to stick to wall-to-wall floor coverings to avoid curling corners that can catch at feet from an area rug.


Source: https://theblindguide.com/home-modifications-for-visual-impairment/


  • In terms of putting towels or other items to hang on the door, parents should hang some hooks on the back of the door at shoulder height, suitable for children to pick up items.


Source: https://threeminutemontessori.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/prepared-environment-for-renters-and-small-spaces/


  • As for the overall room layout, the room needs to be arranged so that there is a natural place for everything that your child can learn to navigate over time. For example, bright vibrant color tone for easy detection of senses inside the bedroom.



Source: http://www.wonderbaby.org/articles/tactile-room-decorating


  • While at it, parents can add some tactile elements to the children’s room like furry throw pillows or velvet drapes so that the children will enjoy the decorations in any way they can.



Source: https://www.hillarys.co.uk/curtains/childrens/


Autism


Different challenges might be faced when it comes to customizing the bedroom for autism spectrum disorder children. Unlike visually impaired which focuses on trying to ensure the bedroom does not affect the child’s vision disability and physically impaired, where the purpose is to improve accessibility and comfort for children who has to rely on wheelchairs and canes, the characteristics of bedroom suitable for autistic children is quite complex as their psychology also plays a pivotal part in design. In fact, ranging from 40% to 80% of children with autism experience difficulties with sleep, making the bedroom a critical part of houses to ensure autistic children are comfortable to experience.


Creating a Peaceful Vibe


The first element of building a base for the bedroom layout for ASD Children is to provide the environment where it is peaceful and quiet to avoid any overreaction from the children. Autistic children have a tendency of sensory overload otherwise known as sensory processing disorder (SPD). Thus, children with evidence of sensory processing dysfunction often have challenges in regulating responses to sensations and specific stimuli and may use self-stimulation to compensate for limited sensory input or to avoid overstimulation.


Source: https://harkla.co/blogs/special-needs/10-bedroom-ideas-kids-autism


Thus, the bedroom needs to include zones created based on purposes separated by play, sleep, work, and storage purposes to contain the potential chaos and further identify behavioral expectations of the children. The same way of room layout as for the physically disabled and visually impaired, reducing the risk of cluttering toys will decrease the risk of the children to be overstimulated.



Source: https://harkla.co/blogs/special-needs/10-bedroom-ideas-kids-autism


One way to reduce the toys clutter is to have a storage space which can be sorted by clear stackable drawers labeled with pictures, symbols, or words according to your child’s needs. Furthermore, storage drawers need to be simple to reduce cleaning up work and accessing materials easier. Examples of preferable storage spaces include soft-side cubes, underbed storage drawers, locked closet and swoop bags.


Lighting


Source: https://www.playpennies.com/nursery-furniture/sensory-room-price-tag-79928


Lighting in the children’s bedroom can also affect the reaction towards the autistic children. According to a research, bright light affects the individual’s mood and behavior. Therefore, to ensure calmness for autistic children in their bedroom, consider the following ideas for lighting like blackout shades or curtains, red-hued night lights, carpeting used to reduce glare from outside light but need to be allergy free and not absorb dust excessively and desk or floor lamps near work areas for precise position of light ray not to interfere with the children.


Functional Accessories and Furnitures




Source: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/childrens-products/toy-reviews/g26670041/educational-toys-for-toddlers/



Source: https://www.soundproofingtips.com/top-10-noise-cancelling-headphones-for-kids-babies/



Source: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wuxingqing-Childrens-Educational-Blocks-Building/dp/B07XSMPHZD